Why women criticise sexualised character designs |OT2| I have no pants and I must scream (READ OP)

On the "why not sexualize men too" argument, and why representation matters

Finale Fireworker

Love each other or die trying.
Administrator
Oct 25, 2017
5,517
ResetEra
That being said, my solution to the issue is:
  • Sexualize men and women on the same level. If there is a bikini armor for women, men should be able to wear it too. This can be an issue with games where the player can only play as one gender, but I hope that there would be enough games from both with the same amount of sexualization.
  • If you find a game that doesn't suit you well, accept that maybe, you aren't the target market. If one or two things of the game aren't of your liking, be more tolerant and try to enjoy the game regardless. Consider that you may not be the only one feeling like that, and those who are comfortable by playing this game may have to be like you when they play the next one.
This is not a solution to the issue. This doesn't acknowledge or remedy the issue in any capacity whatsoever.

Most major visual industries (gaming, television, and cinema) are male-dominated industries. This pertains to both who is creating the media (where men are writing, directing, and designing the content) and who the media is created for (male consumption and point of view). Most media is written by men, for men, and media meant for women has historically been regarded as its own genre (the "chick flick", so to speak). This means that the male point of view is the dominant, neutral, point of reference. In this sense, women must learn to appreciate art on men's terms or create their own art. When they do create their own art, it is often underappreciated or relegated to genre because a woman's point of view is often not taken seriously.

What this means in reference to your statement above is that most media produced is going to be produced by men, for men, and because of the sexism most men have internalized, their art is going to either exclude women entirely or make them sex objects. Some male creators won't even think to include women in their stories because male critics and audiences will laud them anyway (just look at Martin Scorsese). Because their media is consumed principally by male audiences they will not be challenged on the fact their media contains virtually no women at all. This is because - again - a female perspective is niche and not important. What you get instead is an extremely narrow male perspective on what women are or should be.

Comfortable people don't complain and men are not usually the ones made uncomfortable. If they are, they have other options, because media has prioritized them for thousands upon thousands of years. Women do not have these same options. Men are depicted differently across every genre and medium and never are men at a shortage of ways to see themselves depicted. Women do not have this luxury and never have.

In most media, women are either victimized (murdered as an inciting incident, or kidnapped if you want to be generous) or idealized (sexy eye candy who pine for the main character or tease the male viewer with sex appeal). Rarely have women been portrayed with any depth, realism, or meaning other than how in danger or how hot they are. This means women do not have other options to choose when they find a sexualized depiction distasteful.

Sexualizing men does not improve the status quo of how women are depicted in media. It ignores the problem completely. This flawed sense of pragmatism doesn't do anything to improve media inclusivity. You are proposing a solution that nobody asked for to a problem you are not acknowledging.

Because the truth is: if women had as many options to choose from as men did, this thread would not exist.

Depiction of women in general has gotten better over the last decade. In gaming, inclusivity picked up steam in the wake of eye-opening hate movements like GamerGate. The situation is improving, but it isn't fixed, and it hasn't just improved automatically. It improved because a lot of women complained. It improved because some men listened. It improved because people realized broader and healthier depictions of all types of people is a moral compulsion that should be satisfied and, if nothing else, is good for business. Ten years ago, if women's complaints for how they were represented in media was answered with "increasing male sexualization" literally none of their concerns would have been addressed and we would not be where we are today.

Furthermore, the cop-out that sexualizing men somehow makes sexualizing women better doesn't do anything to make media more appealing to women. Most women, and most men for that matter, do not pick and choose the games they like to play based on how hot the main character is and how often their ass is on-screen. Sexualized female characters in male-dominated stories are a symptom of unaccommodating male authorship that doesn't care if it makes women uncomfortable. Introducing more hot men doesn't challenge men to write more compelling female characters and doesn't do anything to address how the content they've created has made women feel unwelcome.

If this was an industry full of female writers, designers, and directors, we wouldn't need to have this conversation at all. But this is a slow status quo to change and happens from the ground-up. Asking for better representation in the meantime is change from the top-down because men already in positions of control have the opportunity to take some responsibility and produce content people other than heteronormative white men are asking for.

It's just like violent games; they are made for adults. And we, as adults, can know the difference between reality and fiction, and can understand that these are fantasy bodies wearing fantasy outfits just for the sake of looking good.
In all of human creation, there is no more powerful or influential tool than man-made media. Media is the foundation for every human religion, over which wars are waged and millions of people murdered. Media is the basis for all of advertising, the cornerstone of commerce through which entire corporate empires are built. Media is the vehicle for propaganda, for every day social correspondence between humans, for bringing news and information and ideas. Media is a uniquely human creation through which all of humanity is influenced and defined. Human existence as you know it would not exist without media. This is precisely because humans have mastered media as a means of conveying messages, consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, and other humans have listened.

How things are portrayed in media affects the way you recognize that same stimulus elsewhere. Seeing a commercial can make you want to buy something. Seeing a recruitment poster can make you want to join the army. A single movie can change the way an entire country of people perceive themselves. This is called The Godfather Effect. There is a reason the US Military and the Pentagon spend millions of dollars and lend equipment and expertise to Hollywood movies that depict the American Armed Forces in a flattering light. Media matters. Media makes a difference. Media shapes people and how they see the world - including other people.

People like to think they are smarter than their media. They like to think they decide what does and doesn't affect them. Certain people consume media more consciously than others by recognizing its faults and its dangers. They mitigate some of the conditioning by simply staying aware of the media they're viewing. But most people don't. Most people plug media directly in to their brain holes and don't think about it. They know they enjoy it and that's all that matters.

Seeing women only depicted as idealistic or endangered sex objects both reflects societal prejudices against women and also reinforces them. It fortifies the point of reference through which people relate to other people because the way your brain reacts to things is automatic. If you've been conditioned to see women as toys or dolls or objects through the media you consume you will continue to do so in the real world.

The comparison to violence is pointless. In your long life, it is highly unlikely you will ever pick up a gun and go on a killing spree. Humans are not born with guns and don't possess the natural impulse to go on a spree killing. This is not a biological function. It's not a basic human experience that happens automatically. But for most humans, sex is, and in your long life you will definitely see and speak to women. How you perceive women, and what you've been conditioned to think women are like and want, is going to affect how you interact with them and how you treat them.

Example: You have been influenced to think the answer to women's media problems are more hot men because your own media experience has taught you that it's a good thing that you like, so women must too. You assume women have as many options that you do and suggest they just play something else if they don't like it. But the point of this thread is to help you understand how people outside your personal experience might feel and what they might want out of their media. Instead, you are trying to give them what you think you would want.


As men, you and I already have everything we could want out of media. We have nothing to gain by denying others that same opportunity. I hope you realize that giving people more of what they like doesn't mean less of what you like. What you like does not need to be defended or preserved. It's not going anywhere. A lesson I wish more men would learn before they approach this thread is that it isn't about you.
 
Last edited:
Representation and objectification

timedesk

Member
Oct 27, 2017
850
This is really a banable offense?
Okay, so I'm going to make the assumption that you are asking this in good faith, and am going to try and explain it to you as best I can.

First, despite your or that poster's apathy or personal anecdotes, representation and its quality matters. This should not be shocking, video games are just one of many commercial storytelling mediums that have had to confront this fact. Movies, television, even comics and novels have had their depictions of gender, race, and sexuality scrutinized. Video games are the latecomer, and as the medium has evolved and become bigger industry, it starts to get held to a higher standard of entertainment. This means, basic obvious objectification is no longer free from criticism.

Representation also is a way to challenge some of the more toxic elements of video game culture. If you haven't been paying attention, the past year has seen several news outlets pointing out how video game communities are being used to radicalize young men. This is not a problem that just sprung up over night. It is the product of years of sexist advertising, of prioritizing and empowering the white male experience at the cold of almost all other perspectives.

Games are an interesting medium, more than movies or comics or television, they invite players to inhabit the skins of people different than them. It can promote empathy and sympathy for characters whose lives and experiences are vastly different than your own. Representation doesn't just allow women and people of color or LGBTQ players to see themselves validated in the broader culture, it allows people who might otherwise not think about these groups to connect with them.

Objectification can damage good representation though. If a woman is presented more as meat to lusted over, then the character is rarely taken seriously, by either the story itself or the player. That is not the same as saying sex positive characters can't exist, but the subject is complicated. Factors like the male gaze of the camera, how well the character's personality is developed have to be taken into account. The worst possible outcome of constant objectification is when it is considered not just normal, but the standard for female representation. You can see this problem in how people are reacting to MK11's designs and how it is an attack on "boner culture". Anything less than a total sexpot is treated as prudish and is likened to forcing the characters to wear burkas. To summarize, rampant objectification has the side effect of warping the expectations and standards that designs for women have.

Finally we come to the elephant in the room, Gamergate. The poster you are defending praised a gamergater as an objective unbiased source of discussion. Not only is that wrong, it is essentially, supporting a hate group. Gamergate has lead numerous harassment campaigns against women who worked in the industry and games journalism. They have lead successful hate campaigns to get women fired from their jobs, and to make them fear for their lives. Their less radical supporters will frequently speak about how representation should happen "organically" in the industry, and that creators should not have to change their original vision to include any other perspectives in their worlds.

This creates an impossible situation where women are driven out of all areas of the industry due to harassment campaigns. They are shown if they speak up about gender, or sexism, or even just their desire to increase representation, then they will become a potential target. You see the problem? Gamergate demands that only women can create the kinds of representation people on this board ask for, but also does everything it can to drive women out of the industry. It's a hate group that has spent the last several years trying to deplatform women, and propping up its supporters here is the definition of arguing in bad faith.

I apologize for the wall of text, and I don't claim to speak for everyone here. I am trying to voice some of my perspective, as limited and flawed as it might be. There are many wonderful posters on this thread who could give better responses. I hope some of this has been helpful.