Bayonetta and the Male Gaze

Bayonetta is hands-down my least favorite character in any type of gaming ever. I hate her more than Ivy, more than Princess Peach, more than Other M Samus put together. She is one of the most blatantly sexualized and objectified characters in all of gaming. So it never fails to baffle me that she manages to generate a fair bit of controversy. That might sound counter-intuitive, but controversy is something that requires fervor on both sides of an argument, and I really don’t see how anyone could possibly defend Bayonetta as a positive role model. And yet, people do. So I’m going to take a look at both sides of the argument, and then weigh in with what I feel is some compelling evidence.

Pro

This is an issue I feel strongly enough about that I don’t trust myself to accurately summarize the arguments for Bayonetta as a positive character, so I’m going to let some other people do the talking for me for a moment. First, a defense of Bayonetta as a male fantasy:

She’s sexy, sexUAL, funny, ungodly strong,supremely confident, always composed, fiercely independent and often (chidingly) protective of others.

She’s on top of every situation, kicks an apocalyptic amount of ass and, though sexual, does not (as far as I can see) ever use her sexuality in an instrumental way. Instead, she relies on a personal power that would make Satan himself wet himself.

Are women actually offended that the modern man fantasizes about a woman like that? Are these poor qualities to put on a pedestal? If we think Bayonetta is an awesome character, are we somehow hurting the collective female consciousness? (Gamepot forum thread: Granted, B is a male fantasy…but is she a bad one? Are women offended?)

Also, an argument that Bayonetta is an empowering figure for women:

Bayonetta takes the video game sexy woman stereotype from object to subject, and it’s tremendously empowering. The title character uses the mantle of her sexuality as a power source. Between Bayonetta and her equally fierce rival, Jeane, it’s a women’s world — the boys just play in it. The Umbra Witches aren’t to be messed with. With this unique theme, the game itself is an artistic representation of the concept that female sexuality is its own kind of weapon. (Bayonetta: empowering or exploitative?)

Lastly, we’ll throw in a dose of “people who hate Bayonetta are just slut-shaming” for good measure:

I’ve learned something from this. If you are a God of war that wants to screw 2 concubines at once for red orbs it’s kosher. If you are a game designer that wants to include the function of jiggling the tits of the supporting female protagonists in a ninja game it’s okay. (Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2) If you are a shirtless devil hunter doing a rant about your newest thrusting and penetrating weapon you’re fine! Yet heaven forbid if a woman in a game is the main heroine and expresses she is comfortable with her sexuality!

Up until this point I thought we were making progress. I believed we could accept games as the enjoyable unrealistic fantasies they were, not compare them to reality, and let females have just as much mature rated kinky fun in video games as men did. (Bayonetta at her witch trial(It’s not feminists trying her by the way) – How some people take stuff [sic]to seriously and don’t realize how sexist they are being)

Those are generally the three main points that pro-Bayonetta advocates like to hit when they’re arguing for Bayonetta as a positive character in gaming. I don’t agree with any of these points, but I wanted to give the pro-Bayonetta camp a chance to speak for itself rather than trying to put words in their mouth.

Con

First of all, I think it’s important to consider the context in which Bayonetta was created. Bayonetta is not a real person, and as such we have to consider the source as well as the character herself in considering whether she is a positive figure. Bayonetta is the brainchild of Hideki Kamiya, a Japanese game designer who has been pretty open about describing Bayonetta as his idea woman. Furthermore, in reference to Bayonetta, Kamiya has said some pretty sexist things:

Well, if I had to pick one, I would say it is the scene where Joy first appears in the game, with Bayonetta and her impostor getting into a pose battle. That was my way of expressing the feminine notion that, to one woman, all other women are enemies. Even women walking by each other will check out what the other is wearing, and might smolder a bit with antagonism. Women are scary. (source: Bayonetta dev: to one woman, all other women are enemies)

Hair attacks are something that only a woman can do, it’s a woman’s beauty. So that’s why I came up with the hair idea. (1up.com: Bayonetta developer interview)

I strongly feel that women outside should dress like her. Like, when she does a hair attack, you’d see the skin. I want women to wear fashion like that. (1up.com: Bayonetta developer interview)

[in reference to Devil May Cry sequel being done by someone else] I wanted to do the sequel. I used to want to do the sequel, but now it’s like, some other guy’s chick. It’s not my chick anymore. And my chick got fooled, and played all around from all over, so I don’t want her anymore. I’m only concentrating on my current chick. (1up.com: Bayonetta developer interview)

But anyway that’s how we’re creating Bayonetta’s moves and all that, and that’s actually the most fun part of this game, thinking about all that stuff. So you will be able to see what everybody in the team likes in a girl from the finished project. (1up.com: Bayonetta developer interview)

[On whether her outfit really is just hair] Yes, completely hair. That means that she’s actually naked, but naked because that’s just hair, that’s not clothing. She has strong magical powers, she’s using her strength, her magical power to keep her hair on her body, to make it form an outfit. So when she gets weak or something, she might just lose her magical power, and if that happens…you know what that means. (1up.com: Bayonetta developer interview)

So. Bayonetta is a sexy character who technically goes around naked designed by a guy who is pretty sexist and coded by a studio of men who are all spending their time thinking about the types of sexy moves they want to see Bayonetta do. This for me is the biggest nail in the coffin.

If Bayonetta were an actual person, then it would make sense to proclaim that her sexuality is a choice and that she’s an empowering female figure. But she’s not a real woman. Everything about her was designed to be sexually appealing by a man who in his own words thinks that all women should strive to be as sexual as Bayonetta. These are not the words of someone who was looking to create a character that would turn stereotypes on their head, nor are they the words of someone who is genuinely interested in creating empowering female characters. Kamiya’s sole concern in creating Bayonetta was to create an action character who was his ideal woman and designing her for maximum sex-appeal for the straight male viewer.

It all comes back to the male gaze. (Seriously, please visit that link if the male gaze is a concept you’re not familiar with.) When looking at fictional characters like Bayonetta, you can’t disregard the creator. It’s not enough to say that she embraces her sexuality, because at no point did Bayonetta ever get to make a choice. Her creators made the choices for her. So I totally agree with Jonathan Holmes in his assessment of Bayonetta:

she’s an empty shell of a character; a shell made from here creators’ sexual fantasies, negative stereotypes, and misconceived notions of the female gender.

As for the people who claim you are somehow sexist or slut-shaming when you hate on Bayonetta, the same point applies. Bayonetta is not a person with agency, she’s a fictional creation devoid of any free will or choice. It is not slut-shaming to decry Bayonetta as a hollow stereotype whose sexuality is nothing more than a harmful perpetuation of the stereotypes surrounding female sexuality. It is a judgement on the designers and writers who created her to be what she is. Bayonetta is not for women, plain and simple. She is designed by men for men. As such, I feel no need to pretend that she’s a positive role model.

The compelling evidence

Sometimes, a picture is worth 1000 words. Moving pictures can be worth even more than that. So I took it upon myself to edit some clips together that illustrate Bayonetta at her most sexual and pair it with some appropriate music. (Although I realize that my choice in songs will date me, alas.) Therefore, I submit the following as an argument for why Bayonetta typifies the male gaze:

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

124 Responses to Bayonetta and the Male Gaze

  1. Rodgisto says:

    All completely correct. Bayonetta is a terrible character. I’ve wondered why I don’t feel as embarrassed playing Bayonetta as I would other games, and I can only summarise it as follows:

    Bayonetta (the game) has the sexuality turned up to 10, and acknowledges it’s a 10. I can accept this and get on with the well balanced game. It’s when I try to play something like Soul Calibur IV ( the series has been increasingly bad since the start) and I feel I’m being insulted because they are presenting female flesh in this po-faced fashion and pretending it isn’t there.

    I was blown away by how impressive the trailer for Bioshock Infinite was for the first half, until I was put off by the arrival of the female character in peril making the point of having her chest pointed towards the camera as much as possible. I’ve emailed you about this, and thanked you for how your site has opened my eyes to this – I used to just feel insulted by Rumble Roses and DOA Volleyball, but now everything is trying to portray an image of women that not only insults girl gamers, but also insults the male audience as an exploitative move on their tendencies.

    Bayonetta is terrible in principal, but in the current landscape she represents something almost respectable. “Yes,” she says, “I am using sex to promote this game.” It helps that it really is a good game built on a solid pedigree, but I can’t put my finger on why Bayonetta doesn’t annoy me when the MGS4 feature of making Rose’s breasts wiggle when you move the sixaxis makes me feel uncomfortable and disappointed. I wonder if it’s the honestly that makes the difference. There’s no avoiding what Bayonetta is, but those other games make me feel like I’m a teenager and the game developers are secretly stashing porn in the game for me to access when my parents are out. If every game took that sexuality to it’s natural conclusion, maybe Ivy wouldn’t wear those fucking stupid outfits and I wouldn’t feel like I’m being treated like a sucker.

    • Ivan says:

      In Bioshock Infinite Elizabeth (the girl in the video) is wearing standard clothing found in the historical period the game is set, they do not make it a habit of being misogynistic in their games (play the first two if you do not bellive me) and if you are interested as to why her chest is so exposed I suggest you read about corsets and their history and also to check out the episode of Mythbusters that dealt with the myth called Son of a Gun (pay special attention to what the expert on the historical period says about whether or not women would remove their corsets for a gunshot wound in front of a doctor).

      • Rodgisto says:

        I assure you, I have played the first two many times (the first was the first game I ever bothered to earn every single achievement for), so I know they’re not in that business. I just found, after reading this blog, that it was harder and harder to find game marketing that didn’t have ladyparts in centre stage.

        • Ivan says:

          That is a hard thing to do, but still don’t put Bioshock in with them as the team went for the turn between 19th and 20th century, I am still hoping that Elizabeth covers herself up in the later parts of the game as she becomes more battle-hardened.

  2. anison says:

    Thanks for calling out Leigh Alexander–that whole debacle was what made me stop reading her.

    And those quotes. Wow. I knew Hideki Kamiya was not the bastion of feminist thought people were pretending he was in order to justify their appreciation of the game, but he’s way more disgusting than I thought. Ick, ick, ick. How is it that people don’t understand that art isn’t created in a magical thought-vacuum?

  3. Marie says:

    The “sexy woman is sexual” argument makes me smash thing sometimes. It’s the same thing that made Isabela from Dragon Age two a strong character, even on websites that normally can handle this stuff. If you’ve ever been to a gay bar, you know that women don’t have to dress for the male gaze to get loads of action, and if you are a woman, you should know that you do have a sexuality even when not naked or dressed up. And to be honest, to have “kicking ass” as an argument for what makes a good female character nowadays doesn’t work very well since all women are doing it.

    • Hazmat Sam says:

      She’s not even really sexual. There’s absolutely no sex that ever occurs in the game.

    • Hmm says:

      And to be honest, to have “kicking ass” as an argument for what makes a good female character nowadays doesn’t work very well since all women are doing it.

      I don’t really agree. Female characters mostly pretend to kick ass, but it’s usually reinforced that this is temporary, until a guy comes along. She then will need to be saved by him.

      Rarely do I see a female character actually kick ass properly. Not a defense of Bayonetta by the way.

      • Marie says:

        The problme here may be that there’s no telling where to draw that line. A lot of people thought that Elizabeth of Pirates of the Carribiea kicked ass for example, because she was doing it right up to the last few minutes of the last movie. Other people thought that Molly Weasly from Harry Potter kicked ass because she was competent in defending her daughter at the right moment. They will say that these women are properly kicking ass, because they were always capable of doing it, only choosing not to. considering what is being said in the article about characters’ free will, that can be just as much of a tool to reinforce conservative ideas about what women should do as only showing women who are unable to kick ass- it’s just a different tactic.

      • eric:p says:

        Yes yes yes. My favorite example is in the Mortal Kombat movie, where Sonya Blade is supposed to be this hardcore ass-kicking superhero, but by the end of the flick she’s chained up — and for some reason, wearing this tiny little skirt. WTF!?

  4. Pollak says:

    I think most pro Bayonetta as a character opinions are ways for people to feel less guilty about their enjoyment of the game (which is fantastic) to themselves. I’m pretty sure that if the game wasn’t good, we would only have negative opinions (or none at all) written about the character.

    Just out of curiosity, have you played Bayonetta?

    • wundergeek says:

      As a rule, I don’t spend money on games that will make me want to throw heavy objects at my television. (In other words, no.)

      • bhlaab says:

        Hm. While I agree with you, that’s a bad practice.

        • Cole92 says:

          Actually, it’s a great practice because she isn’t contributing to sexism in the gaming industry by handing over her hard-earned money to misogynist game designers/developers.

          • From a critical standpoint, it’s better to be able to quote the text directly (which in this case would mean talking about specifics of story, dialogue, gameplay, etc, rather than just the images). But from an activist standpoint, it’s definitely good not to contribute to the profits of the thing you’re trying to oppose.

            And this is why we invented borrowing games. :-)

          • bhlaab says:

            And as an added bonus I’m going to say that I probably should have played Duke Nukem Forever before defending it on this blog’s comments. I played the demo today and it is certainly more… aggressive… than the goofy fun of the old game.

        • Hazmat Sam says:

          Definitely. the experience of a game is in playing it. Just grabbing some clips from Youtube to critique would be like reading a book about Mozart and using it to critique his symphonies. Completely missing the point.

          And besides, you don’t have to give Platinum money if you don’t want to. There’s always eBay.

        • wundergeek says:

          Why? I don’t pretend to be a reviewer or critic – at least not of games. Game imagery is what I’m after, and that can be done perfectly well without playing games for which I don’t want to support with my money.

          Also, life’s too short as it is. There’s a lot of games out there I want to play. Why should I waste time playing games that will make me mad?

          • Hazmat Sam says:

            See, that’d go down a lot easier if you critiques were aesthetic instead of ethical. (even your aesthetic critiques tend to veer into morals and other mysticism)

            I might as well ask: “Why should you waste time watching games that will make you mad?” A careful reading makes the idea that this blog was supposed to induce happiness very doubtful.

            • LilithXIV says:

              Because watching things is free. Also your comparison to reading a book on an artist while critiquing the art makes no sense. The imagery of bayonetta is the part that tends to offend, so of course it’s fine to decide you don’t want to play the game due to the imagery.

              It could have also gameplay, after all, and still be horrible on the side of sexism. One would think this is obvious O.o

              • LilithXIV says:

                awesome gameplay*

              • Hazmat Sam says:

                ” Also your comparison to reading a book on an artist while critiquing the art makes no sense.”

                In general, if we’re talking about whether a character is empowered, it probably makes sense to ask how play is structured for the character, since you’ll be playing a great deal more than watching cutscenes. (empowerment is null when talking about this game, but like I said, generally)

                “It could have also [awesome] gameplay, after all, and still be horrible on the side of sexism. ”

                Aside from the use of “gameplay” (which is a lazy meaningless shortcut. How would you react to someone that talked about “bookread?”) I’m in perfect agreement. I’m a little shocked actually. You’re the last person I’d expect to put the quality of anything as non-contingent on it’s moral value.

      • Rodgisto says:

        The last time I read a blog about a game that the writer hadn’t played, it made me want to put an object through my monitor (http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=1061 it was concerning EDTSD) That doesn’t apply to this blog, however!

        You don’t have to play Bayonetta to get a better sense of what’s going on, it just means you come away with more positives to balance out the negatives. I’m currently chipping away at a fourth playthrough, so when someone says the B word I think more of the game and less of the character. I don’t think she’s a positive role model for anybody, but I also think she’s too caricatured, in the context of the game, to take seriously. Looking in from the outside, the product looks terrible because of what you see. Again, at least it makes the porn a central theme of the game. After playing the Starcraft II demo, I was left baffled as to why the medic characters sound ridiculously aroused by the thought of having to run to save a dying soldier.

      • Rodgisto says:

        And on that note, the last time I read a blog about a game by someone who hadn’t played it, I wanted to put a heavy object through my monitor.
        http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=1061

        That doesn’t apply to this blog, though. The character is a different matter to the game. The latter, many people have fond thoughts of, and it’s a shame that the game is as oversexualised as it is, but I can only say that after playing the game (I myself am on my fourth playthrough), what seems like the worst character in the world actually doesn’t feel as bad in the ludicrous context of the game. I can’t explain why I feel that way though, and I could be wrong. Just about any Dragon Age female offends me 10 times more than Bayo ever did, and I strive to account for this.

      • Alex says:

        Seems like the same method sensationalist news reports use as well. You should really play all the games you talk about here. While many of your points are still entirely valid, especially when it comes to games made by perverted weirdos like Bayonetta, some things, viewed out of context, can definitely unfairly skew the argument in your favour. Even renting the game or playing the FREE demo on Xbox Live or PSN would add more weight to your argument.

        I find I have lost respect for you as a writer due to this fact. Before, even when I disagreed with you, which was almost always, at least I felt like you were trying to back up your arguments empirically. But now I know you’re not even playing some of these games it makes me not take your statements as seriously. Many amazing movies have scenes where a woman in a bikini comes into view or shots inside nightclubs with scantily clad women. If I paused the screen and uploaded only these frames I could make a compelling sexism argument for most every release in the last 20 years on any medium.

        Moving on though.

        I think that your point about her not being able to make these empowerment choices herself, as a character, because she is the construct of the developers themselves, brings up an interesting viewpoint on this topic.

        Kill Screen (A videogame website written by adults, for adults. Not childish idiots.) brought up this point in their article regarding Dead or Alive: Dimensions:

        “In DoA, the control over your “victim” is complete, but illusory: there isn’t an active, moving person in the viewfinder, but a poseable doll, frozen into automatic compliance. The option to cavort over slinky, youthful females with heaving bosoms is cringe-inducing, having nothing to do with a tournament of international fighters all hoping to avenge a personal wrong. It’s at best a narcissistic vanity project for the character designers’ artistry, at worst a bone tossed to the loathsome habits of a few sketchy gadget hounds. But how is manipulating these Plasticine babes any different than a 7-year-old playing with a Barbie, inevitably ripping her polyester clothes off and parading it around a mini-metropolis of toy blocks and on-looking plush bears?”

        Further down the article:

        “This underage girl, partially nude on my 3.5-inch-wide 3D screen, is but artfully composed polygons, the product of hours of coding, not five minutes of procreative thrusts. This is not someone’s daughter. Kasumi has a backstory the same way an imaginary friend has allergies—fabricated truths to cause the illusion of reality. That a game, a fiction, has been withheld from consumers due to worries over child pornography creates a list of questions more obscene than their answers.”

        And the closing statement:

        “We are all capable of constructing elaborate fantasies, whether in daydreams or night terrors. No one has jurisdiction over these private realms but us. They sprout without reason, like a 12-hit combo after a single button press. Before we know it, the damage is done. But it’s all pretend. Look at the screen in your hands. Those bruises are not broken blood vessels. Those faces will never wrinkle; the smoothness remains, a constant sheen into perpetuity. Gape all you want. None of this is real.”

        I’ve made a similar sort of argument on here before, about the fact that the game world only extends as far as the mind of the gamer allows it. For most people who play games, it’s no question as to whether women should dress more like Bayonetta. The answer is no. It’s only deviants like the developers of this horribly tepid game (I actually HAVE played it) and the loud minority of internet man-children that half-believe it to be true.

        Or, giving them more credit; maybe they know it’s not true and that’s why they make these games. When they create these worlds and characters for themselves they are expressing their desires that the real world can’t fulfill for them. Who can say if this prevents them from say, sexual assault in the real world, or enforces the likelihood, but as long as it’s out there, as long as they are being (too) honest about it, the safer these people become (because they can be excluded). It’s the ones who keep it to themselves that end up being dangerous.

        As for whether Bayonetta is a strong female role model for women, well I don’t know about you, but i certainly don’t base any of my decisions on the question “what would Master Chief do?”. It’s certainly not a pro for her in the slightest. And any women who do use video game characters as feminism icons (Which is WEIRD.) can’t complain about their unrealistic attributes, because there’s a reason for that; “None of this is real.”

        Original Killscreen article:
        http://killscreendaily.com/articles/dead-or-alive-dimensions

  5. What a fantastic summary of the train wreck that is Bayonetta- it’s nice knowing I now have a blog post I can link to whenever I start ranting about it.

  6. Ivan says:

    OK this is in Serbian slang so you might want to use something better then Google translate if you want something better then a literal translation:

    Potočarka:
    Је цурица која се понаша као да је добила медаљу за најбољу рибу, а нит је лепа, нит је паметна, нит зна да се обуче, и свеукупни утисак је да је пала у поток, устала и баш мени пришла да продаје муда за бубреге.

    Stream-girl: Is a girl who acts like she won the best chick medal, and neither is she of stunning beauty, nor of great intelligence, nor with a good fashion sense, and leaves you with the overall impression that she fell into a stream, got up and went up exactly to you to try and sell balls (testicles) for kidneys.

    The above mention slang definition would sum up my opinion of Bayonetta’s sexuality, being named after a trusting blade mounted onto rifles in world war one does not help any either.

    The hair attack thing is as much male as it is female in Japan, just go and find on the internet the cinematic version of the manga Basilisk if you do not believe me.

    On the fact of Japan misogynist population: the creator of Bayonetta is not the worst, there is still a guy on the loose in Japan who killed and ate a french girl in France, I think it was in the 70′s or the 80′s that that happened, and was afterwords deported to Japan where to this day he is a free man, on a side note while his father did pull strings to get him out of France the misogynistic cannibal claims to have been housebroken since then as in his own words (this is just me paraphrasing, not the actual word for word) he no longer kills women because he understands that it is a bad thing, however in the next sentence he did say that if he had an opportunity to find a fresh female corpse that the act of eating would not get him into legal trouble he would gladly chow down on it.

    OK my male gaze: only if a woman is turned away from me on an elevated position while I am standing will I first look at her ass, and even then it will be for a second after which I will look for her face and eyes, and check out her body structure and posture at the same time. If I meet a woman on the same height of terrain I first look at their face and eyes and then at their body build and posture (could not care less about body parts size if they do not fit into her body properly).

    And last please do not defile the Salt N’ Pepa song with Bayonetta pictures, as big a hip hop trash the rhythm of the music is it does not deserve a Bayonetta short to go along with it.

  7. Every time a character like this is held up as being about Yay Sexual Empowerment, I want to ask the people defending her just what they think sexual dis-empowerment looks like. If a bunch of men making an exaggerated, writhing, T&A caricature for the enjoyment of other men is somehow a victory for women, then what counts as defeat? Nothing short of outright rape, I suppose — except that there are plenty of female protagonists out there in fiction who got raped and then got badass as a result, so apparently everything sexual is a victory for us.

    Except, of course, not having sex. Not putting our tits and asses on display for other people. Not having our sexuality be the single most important thing about us. Apparently the power to not be All About Sex doesn’t count as empowerment.

    The one faint, distant hint of anything like real worth I can find in those Kamiya quotes is the last one, about the hair. Bayonetta apparently uses her strength, her power, to (sort of) hide her body from the viewer. Take away her strength, and she becomes naked, unable even to control who sees her ladybits. Sounds kind of accurate to me . . . .

    • Ikkin says:

      I think the reason why some people find her sexually empowering is because she’s sexually aggressive. It’s not really all that hard to imagine some people might be jaded enough by the repetition of the implication that the ideal woman is one who gives sex without enjoying it that they might start to champion anything as long as it challenges that.

      Not that I think Bayonetta really deserves the pedestal they put her on (especially in light of those awful quotes from Kamiya), but I don’t think the people who do it necessarily have bad intentions, and I think there might even be value to certain aspects of what they’re saying. You just have to work past the shock that anyone could defend Bayonetta to see it. ;)

      • There are certainly cultures where “the ideal woman is one who gives sex without enjoying it” is a true statement, but I’m don’t really buy that applying to the corner of the world Bayonetta occupies — or really to most Western pop-culture contexts. Not anymore. The ideal woman seems to have become a nymphomaniac with giant breasts and Bolshoi-level pole-dancing skills who can’t wait to engage in enough pseudo-lesbian activity to entertain the male observer before they start crawling all over him instead. And somehow this is “empowering” for us women.

        I can’t speak to the Bayonetta case in any great detail, because all I know about her I’ve picked up via Internet Osmosis (a lot of it here). I’m going mostly on visual cues, rather than specifics of plot. But this sounds a whole lot like the arguments I’ve heard in other contexts (film characters, advertising, Girls Gone Wild videos), so I’m supremely uninclined to buy it.

        • Hmm says:

          Hmhm. That’s actually only if you’re white and able-bodied.

          If you’re not white, not able-bodied, or god-forbid, homosexual, then it’s actually the other way round. We’re expected to be sexless for the most part, and if we aren’t, people object. Sometimes violently.

          Mostly because the “good” woman is considered to be white and able-bodied, so of course she’s expected to perform for men (what else would we women want, anyway? Our own feelings? Of course not! We don’t have that!). But once we’re out of that narrow range, that collapses quickly. See evo-psych “studies” claiming PoC females are “ugly and stupid” and that men “don’t want that”, or people trying to actually criminalize homosexual acts for both genders (yes, women too). Not to mention the absolute horror people have when discovering that, gasp, people who aren’t able bodied have a sex-drive, too!

          It’s a whole kierarchical mess. As a woman, we lose regardless in every way.

          • Oh, there’s not only another entire can of worms but entire warehouses full of ‘em on the topics of race and disability and so on, and I don’t mean to neglect those. Where Bayonetta and characters like her are concerned, though, I wanted to point out the falseness of people saying “look, they’re challenging the stereotypes” — because I really believe that particular pendulum has swung away from “angel in the house” to “sex fiend.” They aren’t challenging anything; they’re reinforcing.

          • LilithXIV says:

            This is a really interesting discussion, though I don’t think I have anything too valuable myself to add right now. Still though, I never really thought about the intersections with this kind of subject in this way.

        • Hazmat Sam says:

          Okay, a lot of people here haven’t actually played this game. I have, so I’m going to try and put into words the general experience, as far as narrative goes. (The mechanics themselves are basically “best spectacle fighter ever,” if anyone’s wondering, which is why I managed to get through it)

          First, keep in mind that Bayonetta is a Japanese character, not a Western one. Japan doesn’t really like aggressive women, to the point that their current trend of inversion of gender roles (what they euphemistically refer to “carnivorous women” and “herbivorous men”) is causing collective anxiety almost on par with the hikikomori. I would call what we have Pseudo-aggressive because pole-dancing, to use your example, still makes the man the initiator of any potential sexual exchange. The same with a lot of the rest of our clichés of so-called nymphos.

          That’s where Bayonetta gets a bit weird becuase, whatever else you could say about it, the game reverses that standard dynamic. Bayonetta herself is a cruel, (this is the most important thing. The game system encourages your fights towards cruelty even without torture attacks as the exclamation mark) amoral hero whose interactions with the male cast are definitely predatory, and not in an “ooh, sexy dominatrix” way because the men clearly don’t reciprocate and are clearly uncomfortable with it. Some of the stuff with Luka gives off some pretty strong vibes. Then you’ve got her… dialogues with the angel bosses, (who are don’t have sexes as such, but all have male-sounding voices) and the torture mechanics. I was wondering just how far they’d actually take it, and now I’m wondering how far they would if they didn’t have ratings agencies to worry about.

          You’d be tempted to think that this is misogynist as all hell, but that’s where it starts getting interesting. There’s never any critique of the character or her gender by proxy for this in the text, and furthermore, the game is pretty emphatic that what Bayonetta is should be normative. So, not so much misogyny as it is gynophobia. Remember that “carnivorous” euphemism I talked about? Yeah… the fear of that is basically what’s going on here, but the concept has been consecrated.

          Kamiya said that women are scary, that this woman is his ideal of what women should be like, and that the theme of this game is sex, and the conclusion to it all is basically “my ideal woman should violate me,” and that gets extrapolated to a general principle because this game is “filmed” through the male gaze. There’s been a lot of otherwise fanservice-obsessed gamer men that have been freaked out all to hell by this character, and it’s not hard to see why.

          So yeah, when women, and it is mostly women, say that this character has sexual potency and agency, they are correct. They’re just overlooking a few things.

          • Sumkid says:

            This is…a decent point to make. Culturally, sex IS handled differently in Japan. Roles are shifted from what they are in America. Definitely worth looking at…That was interesting, Sam, thank you.

            I have a question for everyone about what is considered an ‘explicit view’ of a woman (even a game character). What I mean is, when the camera spins low around the heels, is this just a panty-shot, or can it also be used to make a character look bigger? I’m learning about composition, and I’ve found that even male characters are put into the frame of a low camera to emphasize their torso and pecs. We generally do not feel that this shot is emphasizing his crotch (unless it’s thrust out), but his size. Most games DO use the body-part thrusting to bring a woman’s physical traits into her character before anythign else. But even at a (nude? clothed?) neutral stance–from any angle–how do we view the woman? Is she suddenly sexy based on her measurements? When does her sex come into our consideration of her as a character?

            Women *do* have more bits that are seen as explicit, and *any* view can be called (or emphasized to be) explicit. A birds eye view of a standard man doesn’t say much. Not explicit or burly, just expressing a basic guy. A birds eye view of a standard women is instantly ‘peeping’. from the back, the side, underneath, top–it’s too easy to make a woman explicit or sexual just by showing her body.

            I’m not saying Bayonetta isn’t a stripping freakshow. What I wonder is: how much of our sensitivity to the basic, nude human body is amped up with regards to women?

            I feel that women effectively suppress their sexual looks or gawking, while men tend to make it awfully apparent. Whether women are interested in a male crotch-shot is not important, but the fact that they’ll reserve it is decent enough….Are there any games made by a mostly-or-all-female developer? I wonder what that would be like–Or games with characters that have no birth control!

            I don’t feel that female characters need to be strong, confident or magical, just that their sexuality need not be their first and dominant trait. It’s not interesting, and even women like that in real life are only so much fun. Can we get a total package? Even in comic books, with some of the best characters I’ve ever read, women don’t really get that level of complexity or connectivity that male heroes get. Wouldn’t it be great if we were excited for a hero to be matched with an equivalent heroine? For them to connect on both a physical and mental level?

            Wish this wasn’t so long–you’ve got me thinking!

            • Hazmat Sam says:

              Well, as far as comics go, I seem to recall a friend telling me that Ms. Marvel is way better than Captain Marvel, and that’s as close as you can get to a controlled experiment since she’s the distaff counterpart and all.

              Of course, the way she and Women in Refrigerators told it, Ms. Marvel’s story more resembles Shinji Ikari than your standard superhero.

          • someguy says:

            This is a really excellent comment. There are a lot of things about Kamiya’s remarks and Bayonetta herself that seem awful at first glance, but things are never really as black and white as this article makes things out to be. Bayonetta is … complex. It’s not so easy to dismiss, even if I’d agree there’s a bunch of male gaze going on in the game.

            Check out the comments in this piece for some more good Bayonetta analysis, I thought bluecat’s comment was most interesting.

            http://www1.edge-online.com/blogs/her-sex-is-a-weapon

          • Hazmat Sam says:

            Okay, I did not expect approval for that comment. Kinda freaking me out.

            Elaborating, domination fantasies get pretty much always turn out like this in heavily androcentric and hierarchical societies. It has to be about men, and it has to be holy, so to speak, whereas a system lacking those traits would not have to universalize and just leave it at a fantasy.

            Since that’s not possible, this way of thinking logically implies matriarchy, but, and this is crucial, only in democratic hierarchies. An aristocratic system can easily posit an exclusive class of women, separate from the majority of the merely female, or even a singular woman, usually a goddess. (like how the Japanese Emperor draws legitimacy from being descended from the Amaterasu)

            That’s why Bayonetta is so crazy. Your androcentric thinking doesn’t have to worry about messages glorifying woman dominance when they defined woman as “8 feet tall and can suplex dragons while shooting rocket launchers with her feet,” because that should never actually come up in reality.

          • Josh W says:

            That’s almost exactly why I find the character disgusting; it’s not that she is sexual: We have a character which puts style and visual sexuality above kindness and sexual connection. This is sexual empowerment in the same terms as classic james bond misogeny, with added torture.

            Now this is a character that is created to enjoy it’s displays of sexuality. So there’s agency there, whatever else is going on, this is about sexual expression. It’s just that there is more than that. Yes we have a character that likes what they do, but what they do is seriously dodgy! It’s easy in a peice of fiction to create a character that enjoys anything! Like slaves that love slavery in old american tales.

            So they’ve created a character that loves to be watched displaying itself according to fetishes and to tease, that takes on that visual relationship with such enthusiasm that even those who like that sort of thing get unnerved. It’s like a martial art thing where people over extend someone’s move, but this reductio ad absurdum is clearly not done as satire, it’s done because the creator’s taste for that kind of thing exceeds all reasonable limit!

            At first, when the character was only interacting with the camera, I was not too bothered by it. It seemed like just another element of the humour in excess, that no-one could actually take seriously; sexuality reduced to banality by overplaying it. I only became properly uncomfortable when I saw the elements of misandry, or at least misanthropy, in the characters portrayal. I found it dodgy that this festival of absurdist celebration of excess (which I was already feeling pretty excluded from) included semi-celebration of taunting grieving people, torture, and other kinds of dodgyness I’ve fortunately forgotten.

            The whole game is full of an explosion of cliches, referencing of other media, over the top locations, etc etc, and it does this in a postmodern and celebratory way. It’s easy to see a coherent whole in the way the aggressive and surface-focused sexuality interacts with the rest of the style-over-substance aesthetics, the skattergun and inappropriate use of references. It’s about the spectacle, having a big effect; morality, empathy and humanity is rejected and de-emphasised.

            What makes this very frustrating of course is that I love so much of the gameplay; the enemy ai, the interesting differentiation of threats, the relationship between melee and shooting, the counter system, the smoothly expanding combo system, it’s brilliant. But it’s fundamentally spoiled for me by the aesthetic choices.

  8. Kaonashi says:

    Bayonetta struck me as way too caricatured in both looks and personality to make me see her as an actual ideal for any man. Consequently, I didn’t see her as much of a problem for women either. Reading this post has made me reconsider Bayonetta a bit, but for me personally, the first impression still stands.

    I guess you can compare Bayonetta with Duke Nukem. Both are so exaggerated I can’t take them seriously, even if it’s obvious that they’re both based on sexist gender stereotypes. Subtler, far less obvious sexism that’s more widespread seems much more problematic to me because it’s overlooked or even accepted.

    Reading Kamiya’s comments, though… Wow. I feel kinda naive.

  9. Hazmat Sam says:

    Small correction: A woman was responsible for Bayonetta’s character design.

    What gets me is all the people trying to judge this character based on whether or not she’s “empowered” or what ever the buzzword is these days. That isn’t even applicable (much like asking “is the cloud angry or sad?”) because entire paradigm of the game isn’t democratic. Power is essential in the frame of this text, essentially female, I might add. The only male with magical potency is portrayed quite clearly as an aberration, with the background witch hunts having a noticeable vibe of usurpation. God herself is also illegitimate, possible the most interesting thing in the game, certainly a lot more than the Japanese standard of “God is evil.”

    That’s the reason that you’re having so many problems with this game: because it’s an antithesis of your particular feminism (in fact, most feminism, being that equality is one of those things that most of you agree on) and would remain as such even if the characters were not oversexualized. It’s also the reason a lot of people who should have a problem with this game don’t, myself included. The character has an aristocratic spirit about her, combined with the same sort of joyful anarchism that makes you cheer for the Joker in Batman stories. The paradox just adds to the appeal.

    One of the clarifying moments was Kamiya ranting about people drawing porn of Bayonetta as a submissive. He didn’t care about them grossly exaggerating her breast size, even though he specifically voiced before that they deliberately avoided giving her oversize breasts. That could slide; the character has to be dominant.

    I admit a certain fondness for the character. Not only was the game one of the best I’ve ever plalyed, but some of the people that finally got Kamiya’s message freaked the hell out of the Internet with their fanworks, and that’s always fun to watch. (the reaction of the 4chan crowd to that one doujin with lolipop sounding made my year)

    • wundergeek says:

      A woman designed the character, but she was creator to be Kamiya’s ideal woman – he had a lot of input into the design as Bayonetta’s creator. So you can’t just say ‘oh well she was designed by a woman, so that’s okay’. Also, in what universe do women get a free pass on sexism? Cause we really don’t.

      Also, please don’t make assumptions about me and my feminism. My problem with Bayonetta is not one of equality. If there was a male version of Bayonetta that wouldn’t make me any happier. The reason I hate Bayonetta is because she’s a hollow shell composed of nothing but male fantasies and bad stereotypes and still people point to her and say “empowerment!” and “liberation!”. It makes me want to bang my head against a wall because Bayonetta is neither.

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        ” So you can’t just say ‘oh well she was designed by a woman, so that’s okay’. Also, in what universe do women get a free pass on sexism? Cause we really don’t.”

        Relax. I was correcting, not arguing; I would have said so otherwise. And please stop assuming ethical frameworks. I was and am speaking in a nonmoral sense.

        “Also, please don’t make assumptions about me and my feminism. My problem with Bayonetta is not one of equality”

        I’d got the impression that you were a liberal feminist from your legitimizing the concept of empowerment, but if you don’t care for equality then you’re obviously much more radical than I guessed. (compliment) I apologize for the assumption.

        “If there was a male version of Bayonetta that wouldn’t make me any happier.”

        Okay, you’ve completely misunderstood me. I’ll try to explain this better:

        I’m saying that there would still be an inherent disgust with the game because the narrative is a complete rejection of modernity, and I don’t mean that superficially like “WoW is a rejection of modernity.” I’m using the word sociologically here. Insofar as you want empowered anything you will be disappointed as that concept is not applicable to a pre-liberal (in the European sense) weltgeist. You could have the characters entirely desexualized (yes, I know that’s impossible; this is hypothetical) and you will still not have empowered women in this game because empowerment thinking is only possible in a collectivist paradigm whereas this game is aristocratic. One views power as endowed, and the other as emanated, with the concept of of “liberation” and “empowerment” being nonsensical in the latter case.

        “The reason I hate Bayonetta is because she’s a hollow shell composed of nothing but male fantasies and bad stereotypes”

        Not going to disagree, but I really think you should actually play the game first before you say these things. Granted, you’re making better arguments than the people that have (understanding that the character isn’t real, but a simulacra, and is an object while correspondingly using gaze theory over inapplicable “objectification,” complaints) but I still object on principle.

        “and still people point to her and say “empowerment!” and “liberation!”. It makes me want to bang my head against a wall because Bayonetta is neither.”

        You’re absolutely right; it is monumentally stupid to apply those ideas to this game. But this is where my criticism lies, because saying that she is “neither” presumes that those qualities have meaning in this context. They don’t; it’s a literal erasure. I’d hazard that that’s why this character pisses you off more than Ivy, even though Ivy’s much more jarringly sexualized with much less reason: Empowerment is still applicable, even if absent.

        I have a feeling that we’re having a great difficulty talking about this because of your wilful ignorance of the subject. (That’s not an insult, by the way: you literally refuse to play the game we’re discussion.)

  10. Meg Thornton says:

    I made the mistake of buying Bayonetta. I tried it once. I got to my first “game over” and decided that would do very nicely as a summation of my opinion. Game. Over. The only reason it’s still in my possession is because I feel almost ashamed to admit I actually purchased it (which I’d have to do in order to trade it in). There’s nothing in the game-play which makes it stand out from the crowd. There’s nothing in the plot which really caught my imagination. So the only real appeal the blasted game has is if you happen to be a member of the One True Demographic for games designers (namely, 15 – 25 year old white, heterosexual, American, Christian-raised, middle-class males) and will therefore be turned on by all the tits and arse on display.

    As a 40 year old, white, heterosexual, Australian, pagan pantheist, working-class woman, I didn’t really find much in the game to appeal to me. I really should get around to trading it in.

    • Hazmat Sam says:

      “There’s nothing in the game-play which makes it stand out from the crowd. ”

      Oh, come on now. You hate the game, but that’s no reason to be petty. I have troubles with this game myself, but I can still admit it’s one of the best spectacle fighters we’ve had for years.

      • wundergeek says:

        Dude, it’s her opinion. Furthermore, I’ve seen comments from plenty of other people who have played it who have said the same thing.

  11. Pingback: Roundup of Unusual Size: The ABCDs of the Day – Anime, Bayonetta, Cupcakes and Death « Dire Critic

  12. Korva says:

    Those developer quotes make me want to vomit. Can’t really get any more telling than that. And all that “sexual empowerment” or being “sex-positive”? Bullshit. It’s just another way to drive a wedge between women, even between feminists who should know better. Divide and conquer.

    What I’d see as “empowering” is to have a non-sexualized female character, physical “flaws” and all, whose creators are very firm about the character NOT being fan service, nor a reward for the protagonist, and about keeping her sexuality private instead of hanging her tits out for the whole damn world to see and wank off to. A highly stereotyped character created by a man as his “perfect chick” fails to even qualify for the possibility of being “empowering”, especially in the light of those quotes.

    Finally, and I admit this is the borderline asexual talking: given the milennia of raw hatred, degradation and violence towards women, I honestly cannot imagine how ANY public depiction of female sexuality or a sexual women could be “empowering”, even if done by an actual person out of her own free will and for her own benefit. There’s just too much misogyny left in our world. Even if you don’t pander to that, the misogynists will see what they want to see, and that won’t be a person with agency pleasing herself. It’ll be just another public toilet for their use and abuse. Or am I totally off the target here?

    • Kaonashi says:

      I can’t speak for how women see female characters, but if you’re right it’s depressing that we can’t have good attractive women in fiction because they’re tainted by misogynists and sexists.

      There’s plenty of male characters for female fans to enjoy in a positive way that isn’t misandrist or sexist, even if the characters are sexy or stylized. I realize there are differences in how attraction is defined and portrayed, but it seems like a good balance to strive for for female characters as well.

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        Okay, just to be clear: are you two honestly saying that you can’t enjoy something that you otherwise would because someone might enjoy it the wrong way somewhere else?

        • Kaonashi says:

          Yes. I would at least reconsider something I like if someone else thinks it’s sexist and gives a compelling argument. It doesn’t mean I agree 100% or burn my games, but at least I’ll change how I see a game and whether I’ll support the it in the future.

    • I understand where the people talking about sexual empowerment are coming from. For a long time, Western culture really has told women that Good Girls Don’t Enjoy Sex, and so any woman with a healthy libido felt ashamed of herself and her desires — which isn’t good for anybody. But yeah, as a society we’ve taken this notion of “women can enjoy sex, too!” and managed to run in a direction that still ends up, all too often, being a new expression of misogyny . . . because it just reduces women to their sexuality in a different way.

      But I think we can only solve that by hitting it from multiple angles at once. Show women being sexual and asexual and it’s-none-of-your-damn-business-ual and all the rest of it, rather than the current trend of “lots of wank material and a couple of women who get damned as ugly man-creatures instead.”

      • wundergeek says:

        The problem is that characters like Bayonetta send the message that women can enjoy being sexual… as long as they do so in ways that are pleasing to straight men and as long as they do so before an audience. Which isn’t really the same thing as saying “women can enjoy sex” when you think about it.

        • Korva says:

          “Can be” doesn’t go far enough, IMO. What a character like this is saying, what a guy like this is saying, what our society is saying, is that women HAVE to be all about being sexual first and foremost — for men’s benefit instead of their own. And that is simply the other side of the coin of “women can’t be sexual”: both are a manifestation of the refusal to see us as people, as human beings, instead of property. Regardless of whether we are supposed to be one man’s private property or every man’s public toilet, the attitude is exactly the same.

          That is why I am so damn wary of this kind of thing. That is what I consider very important to always keep in mind. You can’t “empower” yourself or “fight the old system of oppression” by playing along with the new because they’re one and the same.

        • OUT51D3R says:

          I think the fix is for games to move more towards “female sexuality from the female perspective” rather than “female sexuality from the male perspective”, if that makes sense? This will require time, and more female game designers.

          In the meantime, hopefully some sort of balance between the chainmail bikini and the chainmail burka can be achieved.

          • Cole92 says:

            This, yes! I agree 100%. We have way too many straight men trying to represent women through their male-gaze. It’s quite frustrating. =/

      • OUT51D3R says:

        I agree with this 100%. I’ve advocated that position here repeatedly, but you phrased it far better than I ever managed to. Kudos.

  13. Rodgisto says:

    I’ve tried to post a comment in here twice in response to the “throwing heavy things at my TV”, with me stating “The last time I read a blog post like this about a game that someone hadn’t played, it made me want to throw heavy objects at my monitor.” It was a blog post about why there should be ‘People of color’ in Every Day the Same Dream, and the writers and commenters congratulated themselves on how progressive they were, without having played the game and completely missing the point.

    Bayonetta can be analysed as a character and is terrible on paper, but in the context of the full game, it doesn’t even stand out that much as ridiculous as it seems. The poster above clearly didn’t like the game, but it was the 10/10 from Edge and the glowing recommendation that put me onto the game, and an arse does not explain me chipping away at a fourth playthrough. I’ve played an enormous collection of games that happen to have arses in, and as I’ve said before I usually feel insulted by them. As horrific as Bayonetta seems on paper, and screen, the actual experience of playing the full game leaves one with less of a sour taste in the mouth than even something like MGS, which I’m a big fan of, and it’s horribly awkward moments of sexuality. God of War is so embarassing in its display of sex I feel ashamed playing it alone, and yet no-one seems to make a big deal about it’s content. With Bayonetta, I’d happy play it in front of anyone, because it honestly doesn’t feel like it’s trying to exploit me.

    I don’t know if my posts are going missing because of a technical hitch, because they have a link in them or what.

    • Hmm says:

      I actually played Bayonetta, and…it still felt as sexist as the blog here says it is.

      Which makes sense, since it is a whole lot of sexism in there. It was really hard to keep playing since I hoped it would get better. It never did.

      and yet no-one seems to make a big deal about it’s content.

      That is because people aren’t pretending God of War is more than a juvenile male fantasy.

    • wundergeek says:

      Really? I’ve watched a lot of gameplay videos. How do you explain Bayonetta’s torture orgasm combos in which she throws female enemies on torture devices and they basically orgasm to death? (Or that’s what it sounds like.) Or the fact that her most powerful attacks involve getting naked?

      • Rodgisto says:

        That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I don’t think Bayonetta is empowerment for anything. I can put on paper all the problems with it, but as I play through I find myself unbothered. I don’t know why that is, but someone might.

  14. Mehbah says:

    Between Bayonetta and her equally fierce rival, Jeane, it’s a women’s world — the boys just play in it. The Umbra Witches aren’t to be messed with. With this unique theme, the game itself is an artistic representation of the concept that female sexuality is its own kind of weapon.

    And here I thought we wanted equality. But I guess Bayonetta promotes a “women’s world” where boys (read: all males) are of no importance. And “female sexuality is its own kind of weapon”? Is that supposed to be a good thing? Female sexuality as not only threatening, but a literal weapon? That sounds like quite a step backwards.

    This sounds quite a bit like the sort of crazy radical feminism that just wants a matriarchy to replace a patriarchy, rather than to make the genders equal.

    • Kaonashi says:

      I for one want equality in the real world. Imaginary worlds can be different. Turning things on their heads, thinking “what if” and messign with things for the fun of it is part of what gives fiction meaning and value. Well, at least as long as it’s good fiction.

      Also, male sexuality has been threatening and weaponized for a long time. In that regard, Bayonetta only does what men have been doing.

    • Hmm says:

      bit like the sort of crazy radical feminism that just wants a matriarchy to replace a patriarchy

      You mean strawman-feminism, huh.

      That sounds like quite a step backwards.

      You’re acting like male sexuality isn’t used threateningly…

      • Mehbah says:

        Call it a strawman all you want; it doesn’t change the fact that there are people out there who think it’s a good idea. Would you dismiss it as a strawman if I said there are men who don’t want real equality?

        “But male sexuality is used threateningly, so it’s a good thing when Bayonetta does the same!”

        I fail to see how that’s a good thing. Two wrongs apparently make a right? At least I would say that sex = weapon is a standard we shouldn’t have. Saying that it’s alright because male sexuality is used threateningly, too, is like saying “someone stole money from me, so I should be allowed to steal money from you”.

        • LilithXIV says:

          “Would you dismiss it as a strawman if I said there are men who don’t want real equality?”

          But even then, you’re not really saying it about women in general. You’re saying it about feminism. I have yet to come upon the ‘crazy’ radical feminism you speak of except for when it’s being presented as a strawman by people who don’t actually understand feminism or think what every woman says = what feminism says.

          I’m not trying to attack you, I’m just pointing out that this has been used as a strawman against feminism before so it can really make people uncomfortable.

          • Mirasiel says:

            @Lilith

            I’m confused, are you saying that extremists* who use feminism as a shield do not exist or that you have simply never read/heard/met one or that you have red/heard/met one but concluded they were as much a feminist as you were the Queen of England** ?

            *There are several words I would use instead of extremist but someone keeps hitting me in the head and reminding me that those words are generally insulting to others outwith my target.

            **Unless you are the Queen of England, in which case buy less hats and stop taking my money…oh and sub QoE for talking Lizard from alpha centauri***

            ***If you are both these things then one of us needs to up their meds.

            • LilithXIV says:

              Oh, yeah, I guess I came off incredibly confusing there huh?

              “you have red/heard/met one but concluded they were as much a feminist as you were the Queen of England”

              That one. Also, some people tend to take feminists and their writing out of context to give them the crazy radical/man-hating label (This happens with Dworkin a lot, not that I agree with /everything/ she’s said by any means but still)

              • Mirasiel says:

                I’m coming off of a looooong work week so my brains currently working at about 15% normal capacity, so mea cupla if I sounded picky there, my humour and subtelty sensors are currently under maintanence

                Thank you for your reply though, every movement has the fringers who make everyone else sort of cringe and they’d just..move away…and doubly so on the internets.

                As for the out of context quoting, nggh, thats not limited to femism/feminist lit*. but sometimes when I see it’s happened I cant help feel that some of the mis-interpretations were obviously going to happen.

                *although all readings are filtered through other perspectives (websites both pro and anti mainly)as my reading queue is like…a very large thing scary thing that any decendants I spawn will still be working on and it keeps growing, Im considering nuking my library from orbit, its the only way to be sure :)

  15. The Id DM says:

    I purchased Bayonetta used just a few months ago after reading positive reviews about the game when it first came out. I was not aware just how “over-the-top” the main character would be in terms of blatant sexual imagery. I felt a bit embarrassed to play the game at times, especially during the closing credits, which feature at least two strip-tease like sequences.

    However, I still played and found the game entertaining even with the faults. The gameplay is good; it’s similar to God of War and a host of other titles. I even tried to borrow from the mechanics of Bayonetta’s attacks to create a monster in 4th Edition D&D: http://theiddm.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/brainstorming-solos-bayonetta/

    So I’m likely part of the problem. I acknowledge the game has serious problems. And it doesn’t just exploit woman, but it has a host of racial and ethnic stereotypes as well.

    • wundergeek says:

      Yes. I didn’t address it here, but one of the prominent characters is a black man (whose name escapes me, what with not having played the game and all, sorry) who is just about every stereotype of black men rolled into one character. It’s especially bad if you watch the opening sequence – the stereotyping is really just embarrassing and awful. It might even be worse than the Barrett = Mr. T from FFVII, and that was previously my contender for worst racial stereotype in a JRPG ever.

      • LilithXIV says:

        I didn’t even notice how bad Barret was when I first played, but looking back.. ugh I shudder it was so horribly racist. That’s pretty horrible that Bayonetta could be even worse than that x.x

        • Mirasiel says:

          My, is that a landmine at my feet, well lets just kick that what could possibly go wrong.
          ————

          Ok, how is Barret a racist sterotype? I always just thought he was meant to be a clone of Mr.T.

          Please bear in mind that I havent actually played ff7 for ,um, the better part of a decade now and frankly where I have usually lived the pop. mix is pretty much homogenous to point you may think we have human cloning going on. Its not an issue I’ve ever had to actually deal with tbh, at least not in a ‘your skins the wrong color, fucker’ sense.

        • wundergeek says:

          (Oh I didn’t notice it until my third or fourth playthrough of FFVII, like, many years later myself.)

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        I’m not really getting any stereotype beyond the standard “Bald Black Leader Guy” sort of feeling, but I confess that I’m not familiar with the subject. What makes Rodin so much worse?

        • The Id DM says:

          I think you have to look at the game as a whole. Rodin is the “big bad black guy” and there is also an “over-the-top” Italian character in the game. Neither character is certainly nuanced.

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  17. Nick says:

    There’s an blog post here by the creator of I Wanna Be the Guy: http://kayin.pyoko.org/ called Random Thought: Guys are probably pruder than women when it comes to female characters. It also deals with “pros” I don’t think you’ve covered. I still think she’s incredibly sexist, but have trouble refuting some of his logic, especially when he brings up girls who like her as a character. It’s also weird because he’s trying to be feminist, and not in the Jim Sterling way.
    Oh, and this isn’t just for wundergeek, anyone who wants can take a crack at it. I haven’t read much on feminism, so others are probably better equipped to deconstruct his logic.

    • Nick says:

      Though, reading though the comments, I think Marie Brennan got it spot on.

    • wundergeek says:

      Eeeeeehhhh… So his comments at the beginning about reading things gendered as male as neutral I can get behind. I didn’t agree with everything, especially since there seemed to be a fair amount of gender essentialism lurking around the edges. The second part? No way. For reasons stated above.

      • Rodgisto says:

        If essentialism is only lurking, then it’s not essentialism.

        • LilithXIV says:

          How’s that? Gender Essentialism comes from decades of reinforcing the social constructs of gender roles after all. Though we could be using different definitions.

          • LilithXIV says:

            Err, okay, I ditzed out again. My point was that I think gender essentialism can be plenty subtle, we as a society reinforce it without a second thought all the time really.

    • Hazmat Sam says:

      Standard problems aside, he was totally on the mark when he said that “Bayonetta weirdly seems to be a sex goddess from a female perspective.” That’s basically every woman outside this blog that commented on the game. (Men, on the other hand, hear the dog whistles and get freaked out all to hell; see my comments above)

      Women generally put up with this sort of thing more easily than men do. (my hypothesis being that the social conditioning women have to be bisexual plays a very large role)

  18. Luke says:

    When I first heard about Bayonetta, my first impression was that it was satire, taking oversexualised characters to the point where it wasn’t even remotely attractive anymore. Underneath the characters it is a very good game, and I enjoyed it a lot. As far as I was concerned the characters were a supposed to be joke, a ridiculous perspective and a light on how detached female videogame characters were from reality.
    Since I’ve read interviews and articles on the game, I’m not sure where I stand. On one hand I have a great time playing the game, which is what I wanted; On the other side though, as it isn’t a joke, it’s not something I would want to support.

  19. Gabe Glick says:

    I don’t disagree with your interpretation of Bayonetta nor your reasons for disliking her. As far as I’m concerned they’re perfectly valid. But I think there may be cases to be made for other, more positive interpretations of her and her game as well. Your argument seems to boil down to “She was designed by men for men, and can’t be anything beyond what her creators intended.” That’s where I think I may disagree. Creator intent is not the be-all and end-all of art. Art (even what many consider poor art) can mean many things to many people. As long as people can give good reasons for their interpretation of a work of art, that interpretation can be perfectly valid, even if it’s totally different from another interpretation.

  20. Bull says:

    First off:
    1- Bayonetta was designed by Mari Shimazaki, a woman. Not Hideki Kamiya.
    2- PlatinumGames has 19 female employees and not a “studio of men” as you claim.

    So next time if you want to make a compelling argument, how about you validate your facts first?

    Secondly, most of Bayonetta’s (Character) fans are females, this is an observation I noticed on the internet, and I did not see a SINGLE female who expressed sexism from Bayonetta, in fact they find it empowering.

    • Khwarezm says:

      You may want to read some of the comments further above, Wundergeek has explained why the fact that it was designed by a woman isn’t a good enough argument, especially since the conception, personality and backgorund of the character came not from a woman but a man.

      “PlatinumGames has 19 female employees and not a “studio of men” as you claim.”
      I don’t think this really cuts it, does the fact that an organisation employs women automatically mean it cant be sexist?
      In any event, what are the proportion of women to men? Are they high up in the hierarchy?

    • Cole92 says:

      “1- Bayonetta was designed by Mari Shimazaki, a woman. Not Hideki Kamiya.”

      Wow, if it was designed by a woman, it simply CAN’T be sexist, can it? *end sarcasm*. Honestly now, you’re really going to use that “argument”? Please.

      “PlatinumGames has 19 female employees and not a “studio of men” as you claim.”

      19 female employees out of how many total employees? You have a ratio for us, Bull? Also, if you would be so kind, could you give us some information on which positions those 19 females hold within the company? Statistics aside, however, simply because women may have had a part in creating the game and its various characters doesn’t mean they are incapable of producing some extremely misogynist work.

      “Secondly, most of Bayonetta’s (Character) fans are females, this is an observation I noticed on the internet…”.

      An observation you made on the internet, eh? Brilliant. Before you go and scrutinize the legitimacy of someone else’s facts, try checking your own, mkay hon?

      “… and I did not see a SINGLE female who expressed sexism from Bayonetta, in fact they find it empowering.”

      I am a woman and I find Bayonetta to be superfluously sexist and not empowering in the least. There, you found one. Argument invalidated. Move along…

      • tekanji says:

        19 female employees out of how many total employees? You have a ratio for us, Bull?

        I was wondering the same thing, so I checked their website. As of May 2011, Platinum games has 127 employees; 105 of which are men, 22 of which are women. That would make roughly 17% of the company women.

        That percentage is dismal, though it should be noted that it’s pretty standard for the Japanese game companies I’ve seen (who publish their gender breakdown, anyway). And, as Cole92 pointed out, it gives us no indication as to the position the women hold in the company (which is pretty important; there is a huge world of difference between the authority a director wields versus a receptionist).

    • LilithXIV says:

      I’m sorry, this is rather off-topic but I think the others addressed the meat of your argument well enough. Can you please not refer to girls/women as females? It just comes off as kind of dehumanizing is all, I just think if you’re trying to mean both girls and women it’d be best to just put girls/women. I’d appreciate it, thank you.

      • Cole92 says:

        Lilith, I do have a tendency to refer to girls and women as female (damn you, scientific mind of mine!) and I apologize if that was offensive to you.

        On another note, however, I’ll let it be known that I never use “female” unless the subject only involves girls/women, or is paired with “male”. In other words, I wouldn’t refer to women as females and men as just men in the same context, because I understand fully how that is demeaing to women (and if the terms were reversed, to men as well). Using the term “female” correctly is an easier way to represent women of all ages, and that is typically why I do it.

        Anyway, I think it’s great that you’re pointing that out, because far too few people realize just how dehumanizing that term can be in particular situations.

        • LilithXIV says:

          Mm, well it’s true women don’t have a very good word like how men have ‘guys’ I guess. So it can be quite difficult, I guess I just try to avoid it as much as possible even if the whole girls/women thing sounds kind of awkward. I also use females when I’m referring to aliens or something (cause I think women is only for humans…?)
          I can definitely see where you’re coming from on how complicated it can get, though I do believe it’s worth it.

          • Cole92 says:

            Of course “woman/women” applies only to humans, but that doesn’t mean that the term “female” is inherently dehumanizing. In the wrong context, yes it absolutely can be, but when you think about it, by shying away from and demonizing the term “female” completely, you are in a sense implying that there is something wrong with being “female”. Yes we are girls and women, but we are by nature female due to our two X chromosomes, just as we are homo sapiens. I don’t think that this type of terminology in itself is offensive.

            Like I said before, the main reason I use the term “female” is to more easily represent the various classifications of women, but I also unabashedly use the term simply in a scientific context, as do many others, I’m sure (please note that I am not condoning the incorrect use of the term, of course).

          • N says:

            For myself I hate “guys”, it also have some connotations.

            • Cole92 says:

              I do as well. In fact, I have a problem with any term that uses one sex to represent a general population (i.e. – guys, mankind, manpower, etc.). It’s just a reflection of humanity’s long history of sexism, however trivial it may appear to be.

  21. AH says:

    I’m a lesbian (so maybe it’s pandering to my “male” gaze?) and I love Bayonetta, both the character and the game. I was way too busy laughing at its over-the-top antics to get offended. She’s got guns on her feet, for god’s sake. Every time she made a ridiculous pose and the camera zoomed into her crotch, or when she uttered absurd moaning noises when her nun’s costume was slashed off by monsters, I giggled my ass off.

    Bayonetta is so blatant and exaggerated that I can’t take it seriously. There are a lot more insidious portrayals of sexism that I tend to worry about.

  22. Raug says:

    Now, I am a bit late to the party, but I have to say a few things: The whole premise of your article is…. wrong.
    “If Bayonetta were an actual person, then it would make sense to proclaim that her sexuality is a choice and that she’s an empowering female figure. But she’s not a real woman.[...] Bayonetta is not a person with agency, she’s a fictional creation devoid of any free will or choice.”

    Really? That is…. horribly wrong, it basically discredits every fictional character in the history of mankind. I don’t even know where to start, when I read that sentences, I actually stopped to reread them several times, wondering if you are serious or using satire. By that logic, we should stop reading/watching fiction, because we “cannot learn anything from made up stuff”. I also disagree that the intention of the creator defines the character. In “Sucker Punch”, they tried to create a strong female empowering woman, but completely failed. The character turned out to be horribly written, just because they had good intentions does not make her better, as it does not make Bayonetta worse. The character has to stand on it’s own in the context of the game, and that is the last part that bothered me: You did not even play it, therefore completely ignoring her context. What is the difference between this article and the one by Roger Ebert in which he said, videogames can never be art?
    Although I think your conclusion is not so far off (I would not see Bayonetta as an empowering character at all), the whole argument is faulty.

    • Cole92 says:

      “Really? That is…. horribly wrong, it basically discredits every fictional character in the history of mankind.”

      No, the point that was made is that the argument that Bayonetta is an empowering female character because she “chooses” to be hypersexual is a bad one since she is not an actual living person with thoughts and emotions. She cannot truly make a choice to be sexual, she’s not real. She was created by human beings and given a personality that they desired. What you’ve done is taken that one point that Wundergeek made and ran with it, trying to relate it to something completely unrelated. Saying Bayonetta does not have the ability to make choices on her own and therfore is not an example of female empowerment = discrediting every single fictional character every created? How do you even make that connection?

      “By that logic, we should stop reading/watching fiction, because we ‘cannot learn anything from made up stuff’.”

      What logic are you referring to, because the idea that “we cannot learn anything from made up stuff” was never presented in this article.

      “I also disagree that the intention of the creator defines the character.”

      I will agree with you that intention does not always define a character, but that is irrelevant. Bayonetta was written with sexist intentions, yes, but what really matters is how her character was perceived by the gaming audience, and in this case, she was perceived as pandering to the male gaze and not an empowering female character. The end result was teeming with misogyny.

      “In ‘Sucker Punch’, they tried to create a strong female empowering woman, but completely failed. The character turned out to be horribly written, just because they had good intentions does not make her better, as it does not make Bayonetta worse.”

      This isn’t about which female character was better or worse, it was about their representation and what message they bring about gender and sexuality.

      “The character has to stand on it’s own in the context of the game, and that is the last part that bothered me: You did not even play it, therefore completely ignoring her context.”

      Not playing a game before critiquing it is generally a bad practice, yes, but it doesn’t take playing the game in it’s entirety to have a decent understanding of how the character in question is represented. Critiquing gameplay mechanics? Yes. Critiquing story and plot elements? Yes. Critiquing the sexism displayed within the game’s characters? Not so much. Plus, there are many gamers here who have played the entire game, and while they may argue that the game in itself was fun to play, most agree Bayonetta is still presented in a sexist way. So your argument that Wundergeek’s assessment of Bayonetta’s character and the misogynistic message she carries with her is inherently wrong pretty much crumbles to pieces once you introduce the fact that people who have played the game find it sexist.

      “What is the difference between this article and the one by Roger Ebert in which he said, videogames can never be art?”

      Um, perhaps the difference is that no one here is claiming that videogames aren’t art? You have some serious problems with connecting things otherwise unrelated…

      “Although I think your conclusion is not so far off (I would not see Bayonetta as an empowering character at all), the whole argument is faulty.”

      All you’ve done is create an imaginary argument (or more accurately, arguments) and tried to destroy it with a faulty argument of your own. Come now, you can do better than that.

      • Raug says:

        Now my answer is even later, sorry for that, I guess noone’s gonna care any longer, but well… now, a disclaimer, I don’t want to defend Bayonetta, I don’t think (as said before) that she is an empowering role-model, but I think the way this article was written does not really support any case, especially not one for video-game journalism. Neither does my answer though, I am aware that I can’t write, but I don’t have a blog.

        “She cannot truly make a choice to be sexual, she’s not real.”
        No character is. No character has a choice to be sexual, so therefore you cannot create a (positive) female character that is sexual? And any other character can’t choose their destiny either, so that in the end, all characters are just mere puppets, controlled by humans and worthless themselves, as they cannot break out of their predestined life.
        Characters don’t work that way. You must imply that a character has a choice, or stories become meaningless. If a female character is sexual, you have to look into they way she acts, the way society around her reacts, and her backstory. In other words, you have to look at the context of the game (or movie, for that matter). Which is very hard to do if you don’t play it.

        “but what really matters is how her character was perceived by the gaming audience, and in this case, she was perceived as pandering to the male gaze and not an empowering female character.”
        Really? She was? Don’t we have that discussion because not few people, male and female, perceive her as an empowering character, while others perceived her as sexist, while others wrote porn-fanfiction?

        “Not playing a game before critiquing it is generally a bad practice, yes, but it doesn’t take playing the game in it’s entirety to have a decent understanding of how the character in question is represented. Critiquing gameplay mechanics? Yes. Critiquing story and plot elements? Yes. Critiquing the sexism displayed within the game’s characters?”
        I completely disagree. While, yes, you don’t have to complete the game to understand a character, I would say you have to play a decent amount, more than half. Longer than you should to critique gameplay mechanics, because usually you can tell after an hour or so if they are fun or not. But a character is a way more complicated matter, at least if he or she has an arc. This is not “Marine Grunt V3.0″, but a story heavily focused around a (for a video game very well) written character. Sure, we can look at a couple of screenshots and 4 minute youtube clips to conclude, “Well, you can nearly see her breasts, and this video looks very sexist! Also, the creater seems to be sexist! This character must be sexist!!”, but that would hardly be an analysis. Now, I don’t say you have to go all Plinket on Bayonetta, but if you want to analyze a character, you should maybe play the game.

        “You have some serious problems with connecting things otherwise unrelated…”
        I think I did manage to express myself a bot poorly, I agree, I meant to say that this article, like the one by Ebert, comes to conclusions about a videogame the author did not play. Just to clear that up, sorry for any misunderstandings, I think it did not help that English is not my native language.

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  24. Ignorance says:

    I agree that Bayonetta is a game made by men, for men. As a man I have no trouble seeing the intent of the creators. Trying to argue that Bayonetta is somehow a good role model is silly, but does she have to be?
    I don’t think she has to be a good role model, just as the main character of any game(or movie, or story). Why this game in particular should be held to a higher standard is beyond me. Anyone who knows Japanese culture knows that, unfortunately, women are not equal to men. I agree with the author of this blog that women in games are often portrayed in a male biased way, however, Bayonetta is not the game to make a stand on.

    Analyzing a game’s images without considering context will rarely lead to good results; shooters often have this problem. Games are more than the visuals they produce; its only fair to at least judge the sum of all a games parts.

    Bayonetta is not a role model; she is a character. She and Jeanne, along with the other characters, set the game’s tone well; the game is outrageous. When playing I feel like I’m watching some crazy mashup of Equilibrium, Charlies Angels, and an old LA detective flick; should I feel wrong that I enjoy it?

    On a side note, the game mechanics are actually quite interesting. I had never seen nor heard of the game until about two weeks ago, but wanted to play after talking with a fighting game friend.

    In closing, games, like any form of media, are to be entertaining; stopping short of this goal is suicide. For proof that P STAR(yes I understand that they merely helped with balancing and polishing the game) understands this and is an awesome game company, see Vanquish.

    • wundergeek says:

      So you’re saying that as long as a piece of entertainment is entertaining that we shouldn’t then examine it critically? How, then, would the sexism in entertainment ever get addressed? Does the fact that Michael Bay sexually harassed Megan Fox not matter if you really liked the Transformer movies? Ignoring issues of discrimination won’t make them magically go away.

      Also, you can’t just wave your hands and say “it’s fiction”, because funnily enough, fiction influences people. Everyone knows the women on the cover of Cosmo are fiction, and yet we still have seen a huge increase in eating disorders in women in the last few decades.

      • Ignorance says:

        Michael Bay is not a Transformers movie. Any wrongdoing done by people in the entertainment business should be treated like any other person. Its a huge leap to define a character and actor as one and the same(yes, I know Bay is a director, but the same applies); unfortunately tons of people don’t distinguish between the two and do define them as the same.

        Analysis of what fiction is made of is important, but doing so doesn’t invalidate the piece of work. I can just say “its fiction”, because, funnily enough, fiction does not happen in a vacuum. Yes, fiction influences people, just as any life experience, but fiction is only part of the larger whole that is society. Different works of fiction influence people differently, but fiction benevolently influences the whole; it is a two way street.

        Understand that if certain works, such as Cosmo, never existed, that does not mean something else wouldn’t have taken its place. While that is somewhat of a moot statement it is worth considering. Society evolves, and I think its evolution is more-so hastened by examples of what it should be, not by criticism of examples it shouldn’t be.

  25. WhatNot says:

    If all I knew about Bayonetta was what was presented in this post, I’d have no problem agreeing with you. In fact, before actually playing the game, I shared your opinion. It looked like a typical 13 year old male power fantasy, and I was a bit embarrassed to try the demo.

    The reality is that 13 year old boys, and those that share their mentality, hate this game. They can neither identify with Bayonetta as a proxy for their power fantasy, nor view her as an available sex object. She’s completely incompatible with the male gaze that supposedly invalidates her.

    On top of that, there’s the entire tone of the game, which seems to be completely disregarded here. The thing is total camp. This game is basically “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” or “Rocky Horror Picture Show” filtered through a Japanese interpretation of Judeo-Christian mythology. Bayonetta is essentially a drag queen.

    And really, that video compilation is a bit disingenuous. The majority of that footage is from the post-credits dance number, which features both the protagonists and the enemies in a choreographed routine. The most offensive parts of that video are not actually of Bayonetta herself, but of an imposter – during a dance-off battle. A dance-off battle – the very same way disputes are resolved on Ru Paul’s drag Race.

    How did you feel about the idea of motherhood as presented in the game? For a large portion of the game, Bayonetta acts as a protector and mother figure for a younger version of herself. Were you even aware that this was a part of the Bayonetta character?

    What about how the game handles the usual “damsel in distress” moment? Contrary to Kamiya’s interview suggesting that women are all natural enemies, it is in fact Bayonetta’s only worthy rival, and ostensible “enemy” Jeanne, who comes to her rescue when the chips are down.

    The thing is, you haven’t played the game, so you don’t know anything about the actual character of Bayonetta. A game is not an interview, a video clip compilation, and some screenshots. This is about the same amount of information that people used to justify banning Huck Finn without ever reading it. Well, he’s a white kid that says the N word, so the book must be racist – when we all know the actual intent of the book is the very opposite.

    I’m not being stupid or willfully ignorant. I recognize that there are sexist ideas and imagery in this game. My problem is that you’ve completely dismissed this character based on assumptions and partial information. Any fair character critique should at least involve experiencing the story in which the character exists.

    The Bayonetta that you presented here? Sure, she’s an empty shell, and worthy of ridicule. You’re completely correct in your opinion. The problem is that it’s just not an accurate representation of the total character, which you’d really have to play the game to completion to understand. If you can do that and still feel the same way, well there’s the beginning of a serious discussion.

    • wundergeek says:

      Whoa, hold on here. I never advocated banning Bayonetta, so please don’t go waving the censorship flag. Hating Bayonetta as a character and wanting to ban the game are two separate things. Do I hate Bayonetta? Sure. But there are very, very, VERY few instances where I will advocate for games being banned, and mostly for rape games like RapeLay.

      And yes, I was aware that Bayonetta is a mother, but I don’t really see how that impacts on her gross oversexualization. So she happens to have a redeeming character trait, awesome. That doesn’t make her any less oversexualized. Also, similarly, a lot of those clips are from the video at the end, but doesn’t the fact that Bayonetta does a crotch-gyrating, boob-thrusting dance number at the end of the game say a lot about nudity as a meta reward for the gamer? There’s plenty of stuff from the gameplay I didn’t bother including, like her hair attacks that leave her almost completely naked, or the torture combos which cause female enemies to sound like they’re orgasming to death. I picked stuff that would make the strongest visual point, but there’s shitloads of material I didn’t even touch.

      Lastly, I’m not sure what men you’re talking to, but there are A LOT of men on the internet who have talked about how they think Bayonetta is smokin’ hot. Case in point, Jim Sterling did this piece called How Bayonetta is blatantly hotter than your girlfriend. And lest you think that’s an isolated example, google search instances of “Bayonetta” in Destructoid.com and you’ll see TONS more where that comes from. So I stand by my argument that Bayonetta personifies the male gaze, because there’s a fuckton of evidence to support it.

      • WhatNot says:

        I never suggested that you advocated banning the game. I just realized you’re in Canada, so it’s probably my fault for assuming that everyone has had to read Huck Finn at some time. It’s the perfect example of a work where one can take the surface details of the story (the N word, the presence of slaves, etc) and conclude that the novel is racist, when in fact it’s a story about tolerance. That’s the point I was trying to make.

        I’m not even disagreeing with your opinion based on what you personally know about the character. My disagreement lies solely with the fact that you haven’t personally experienced the whole work that you are critiquing.

        We can’t actually have a real discussion about this, because we’re not even talking about the same character. The Bayonetta character I experienced was the result of personally playing the game to completion, and the experience that it necessarily entails. The Bayonetta character that you have a problem with is a second-hand construct based on what you perceive the game to be, not from actual experience.

        For example, I’ve never read or seen “Gone With The Wind”, but I have a fairly negative opinion of the character Scarlett O’Hara, simply based on what I perceive that character to be from second hand knowledge. Can I honestly say that I have any sort of informed opinion on the subject? Of course not. Would I reserve the pedestal of “most hated character ever” for something contained in a work which I never read? No, that would be even more ridiculous.

        On a related point that you didn’t address; what about the camp/drag queen factor? Do you consider the character/persona of Ru Paul or drag queens in general to be inherently sexist? It’s a different type of male gaze, but you can’t get much more explicit than that. Honestly, that’s the vibe I got from playing Bayonetta: not “This is the woman I want”, but “this is the woman I would want to BE.”

  26. aido says:

    So I have a friend who has resisted playing Bayonetta for ages on account of the objectification of it’s female lead. I can’t fault him for that, but the same guy had no problem at all with Devil May Cry 4 and the depictions of Gloria / Lady / Trish. I pointed out that whatever objections you may have to Bayo, at least she stars in the game, has a personality of sorts and has a (admittedly ludicrous) character arc. The girls of DMC4, on the other hand, are straight-up, utterly superfluous, gratuitous inclusions of T&A with no impact on the actual game. This to me is way more distasteful.

    Your opinion?
    (ps- love the game, can’t defend the sex politics)

    • wundergeek says:

      Well I’ve never played Devil May Cry, but I think I prefer my shallow stereotypes a bit more open. The thing that bugs the shit out of me about Bayonetta is that people point to her and say EMPOWERMENT! No one points to the ladies of Devil May Cry and says EMPOWERMENT! So at least they’re a bit more honest in their fanservice…

    • Tricki says:

      I’m veeeeery late to the party here, but seriously? You think the Devil May Cry girls are pointless T&A? Did you completely miss their personalities, history and input in the plot?? Hell, Lady is more of a character than Dante himself.

      They might be pretty, but their exploitation is no less blatant than Dante’s. I’m actually quite intrigued by how you think the girls are pandering to the base audience, when you’ve got Dante thrusting his crotch at the screen, prancing around without his clothes on (in a completely sexual, hip-swaying way), and getting caught in scenes that reference him as a sexual object. If there was ever a series that was all about equal opportunity ogling, it’s DMC.

  27. jose says:

    Didn’t read the comments. Just wanted to say that video, trailer or whatever it is has been probably the most retarded thing I have ever watched. I’m imagining right now the designers discussing the footage, like in 1:10, saying ‘you know what should be cool? Have her legs spread open and put a big light on her groins!” And the rest of the team going “whoa man that’s really cool, let’s do it!”

  28. Leebmx says:

    I was wondering, and please don’t shout at me, but what is problem with a man or a woman creating a work of art in which they depict their idea of a sexually attractive person?
    I notice in the quotes from Hideki Kamiya that nowhere does he say anything about Bayonetta being an empowering female role model. All he seems to be doing is creating a game around his personal fantasy, as wierd, sexist and wrong as it may be.
    So if we don’t pretend it is anything else, what is wrong with saying this is a great game (in my opinion of course) wrapped up in some rather strange and maybe worrying themes from its creator.
    I do not see a lot of difference between Bayonetta and many of the films of Hitchcock. Both excellent entertainments which spend a great deal of time indulging the respective directors tastes in women. Or is the problem that Kamiya’s taste is more extreme and offensive than Hitchcock’s?

    • wundergeek says:

      Well one of my biggest problems is that he has also said that he thinks ALL WOMEN should be as sexual as Bayonetta. Bayonetta is a fantasy, not a real person, so wanting real women to fit into the creepy stereotyped fantasy that he’s created is just… well, creepy.

      • Leebmx says:

        Sure, and I think if it came to pass he would be a little creeped out by it in the end:) Especially when his mum started going out dressed in nothing but her own hair.
        However, i’m not sure if you have answered my question. Does Kamiya obviously being a little perv make his game bad? There are lots of works of art which are a fantasy of the authors sexual ideal – are they all bad? Does an artist’s dubious morality, ethics or values invalidate his work?

  29. Sonata says:

    You know Bayonetta was designed by a woman, right?

  30. Pingback: Ego Check: Anna Kreider of Go Make Me A Sandwich | The Id DM

  31. Roda says:

    I used to feel uncomfortable about her, until I watched this: http://screwattack.com/videos/TGO-Episode-32-I-Heart-Bayonetta

  32. nate says:

    I have never found a videogame character sexy. Haha. But Bayonetta is without a doubt one of my favorite characters. The almost-naked-except-for-immaculately-placed-hair is a bit rediculous, but you’ve gotta admit the game is amazing.

  33. Pingback: Happy Birthday! Looking back at a year of GMMaS. | Go Make Me a Sandwich

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