On Sexual Objectification as a Complaint

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Yes, yes I know another thread on gender politics. I recognize that there are many of these, however after seeing arguments on this topic I decided that I should try and talk about a specific issue I have with the whole "sexism and objectification" thing. If you have nothing to add except complaints that this thread is another about the sexism topic, then I would remind you that you do not have to be here. Feel free to go onto a thread about a topic you would like to discuss and talk about that. Honestly I am as sick of seeing "another x topic thread!?!?!?!" on every common subject as you are of those subjects. As a side note, religion and politics is the correct place for this, yes? Is feminism a political movement? Why isn't it religion, politics, and philosophy? Ok, moving on.

Now I have heard a lot of discussion on sexism in the videogame industry (as is evidenced by the above statement about comments), however I do not see one key point being addressed. Why is objectification, and specifically sexual objectification such a negative thing? The argument is that it demeans women by treating them like pieces of meat, yet this argument is not applied to many other areas where one could claim the same.
I would like to give one example people tend to use of a positive female character. Alyx from Half-Life 2 and episodes. Now people have many reasons for liking her, most of which I agree with, but in almost every conversation I have heard about her one thing is mentioned. "And she has a reasonable bust size". Wait what? When did having average/small breasts become a requirement for being a good female character? There is alot of complaining that video game females have large breasts to appeal to the male consumer base, and that this is a bad thing, but I don't see it. Yes many females are idealized to societal standards of beauty, but I don't see the issue here. Video games are using the fact that straight males make up a majority of their consumer base to their advantage, yet I don't see the harm. The male gamers get eye candy, characters that are appealing and attractive to the eye, and female and homosexual male gamers get... well not much, but they don't lose anything either.

I don't understand why people are so angered by sexualised depictions of charecters, I just don't see who is being harmed here. You could argue that people don't care about the women as a character, but only as a means of satisfying desires to which I would respond not necessarily, afterall I don't know about other men but I am perfectly capable of finding someone sexually attractive and simultaneously realizing their other features. I know men are stereotyped as drooling dogs, barely capable of anything when a sexualized image is within a mile of us, but come now I think males as a gender deserve more credit than that. Even assuming this was true, so what? Lots of characters serve the purpose of interesting the viewers. The messenger who brings word to the king serves the role of setting up exposition and delivering information to the viewer/player. But is he being objectified? We certainly don't care about him as a person. Same goes for the almost always male legions of faceless goons mowed down in video games and other media. These characters exist because the creators of media thought we would enjoy them. A character might serve as eye-candy or comic relief, whatever the creator things will make people like his creation. What's the problem with sex, specifically?

There is also the argument that the same thing often happens to male characters, which can be countered by saying they are more male power fantasy then attractive options for the ladies, which can itself be countered by pointing out the demographics of most video games, along with wondering why scantily clad women cannot be female power fantasies (yes I know, not all women want to look like that, but then again breast implants are a industry, and people often complain about unrealistic body standards so clearly at least some females want to.) but we will leave that off for now.

Now I hope you will forgive me, but I feel the need to transition from fiction to reality to illustrate my next point. Strip clubs are another thing people complain about being objectifying and demeaning once again because women are being treated like objects. But why is this complaint only extended to strip clubs? If I get my coffee from a cafe I certainly don't care all that much about the guy who delivers it to me. I want him to do something I would find advantageous to me, so I give him something he wants. Capitalism. I pay grocers for food, but I am not really concerned with who the cashiers are as people. In the same way, if I wanted to experience sexual arousal I would go to a strip club. I would, of course, pay money in return for something I enjoy. Both parties are satisfied with the trade and everything works out, in each of these situation, yet only the strip club situation is anyone being "objectified" according to some feminists. Again, what makes sex such a terrible thing?

I would go into how I feel violence against women arguments for why media is itself, a sexist argument but I fear this is already far too long. So Escapists what do you think on the issue? Do you feel sexualising female charecters in games is objectification, or just giving the people something you think they will enjoy? Please be polite and kind, and hopefully this doesn't erupt into a flame war.

Lonewolfm16:
I would like to give one example people tend to use of a positive female character. Alyx from Half-Life 2 and episodes. Now people have many reasons for liking her, most of which I agree with, but in almost every conversation I have heard about her one thing is mentioned. "And she has a reasonable bust size". Wait what? When did having average/small breasts become a requirement for being a good female character? There is alot of complaining that video game females have large breasts to appeal to the male consumer base, and that this is a bad thing, but I don't see it. Yes many females are idealized to societal standards of beauty, but I don't see the issue here. Video games are using the fact that straight males make up a majority of their consumer base to their advantage, yet I don't see the harm. The male gamers get eye candy, characters that are appealing and attractive to the eye, and female and homosexual male gamers get... well not much, but they don't lose anything either.

Imagine you're playing a game that has a deep and generally serious story, a beautifully detailed and realized world and interesting and engaging characters. Now imagine all of those characters wearing nothing but bikinis and banana hammocks. That is the problem with sexual objectification in many games--it's distracting from the narrative and the rest of the world, and really has no reason for being there. You expect that from Team Ninja games, but most people don't want that stuff everywhere. It's overbearing and distracting. There is a pretty broad and hard-to-miss line between "aesthetically appealing" and "hypersexualized," and I think that's the distinction you're seeing made between Alyx Vance and other characters like Lara Croft or Ivy. Alyx looks "good," attractive even, but her features aren't overblown so the reality and depth of her character is mirrored by the reality of her appearance. She doesn't look designed or catered to anyone--she looks like Alyx Vance.

And there is something lost when everything in a game is made to appeal to people who aren't like you. It makes you feel marginalized. In the case of a woman, it's like picking up a magazine and abruptly realizing it's the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. When something is so extremely geared toward a very specific demographic, it becomes more and more repellant and polarizing for those who aren't in that demographic.

Now you ask a lot more questions, but the last one I'm going to address is this one:

What's the problem with sex, specifically?

There isn't any problem with sex, or sexuality for that matter. Women have sexuality, and don't mind expressing it. However, we like to express these things on our terms. The thing with games is female sexuality is everywhere, but it's never on our terms. It's never how we picture our sexuality, and it's never for our personal enjoyment. It's how men picture female sexuality, and it's for the enjoyment of other men. When a woman pictures her ideal sexual self, it generally doesn't involve double F breasts barely contained in a strapless bikini. It's more subtle, elegant, mysterious, and a bit wild and dangerous. It's less about big tits and more about fire and energy. We prefer to leave a bit to the imagination, lure you in rather than just laying it all out on a silver platter. There's a certain amount of class and elegance to it. We'd rather be the million dollar heiress beckoning you with a finger from behind a velvet curtain, than the 10 dollar tramp straddling a pole in some trashy nightclub.

And all you ever see in games is the 10 dollar tramp. That is how deep female sexuality is in games, and that's why women and many men find it disgusting. It's not that the issue of sex itself is the problem, it's the trashy, unreal, and idiotic ways it's represented that are irksome. You'll never see me complain about the sex scenes (if you can call them that) in the Mass Effect series, because it's handled with a degree of subtlety and taste that is closer to what I want to see in a sexual relationship between characters in a game. It's not just about seeing Shepard in his or her panties, it's about the relationship between the two characters and where they are in relation to the rest of the story (the sex scenes always happen before the biggest fight--literally making love like there's no tomorrow, because there might not be). Say what you will about the relationships being shoehorned in, but I think they handled it very well.

TL;DR: Objectification is presenting something as a passive object instead of as an active agent. Sexualizing something is not the same thing. You can objectify without sexualizing, and you can sexualize without objectifying. Simple as that.

I think you need to go away and actually look up what the word "objectification" means, if you think you are objectifying your barista by not caring about his personal life.

I am genuinely too tired to respond to this topic properly right now, but I'm going to ninja the straw feminism before it gets underway, for all the good it'll do.

No one is complaining about video games having sexual content.
No one is saying that women in video games aren't allowed to be sexy.
No one is asking for games to be censored or banned.
No one is saying that men can't be objectified.

Try to keep all that in mind before you post. Straw feminism gives me a headache.

EDIT: If everyone could abstain from slut-shaming rhetoric as well that would be lush. Thanks in advance.

With regards to Alyx Vance

Would it be damaging to her character if her breasts were double Ds, and you could see a bright pink thong over her low-riding jeans?
Would it be damaging to her chapter if, instead of jeans she was wearing short shorts?

Yes. Sexualizing characters damages them when you think of the impracticality of it all. Would she still be Alyx Vance if she had these features? Yes, not as we know her now but she'd be distinct, but she would never be cited as an exemplary female character because her other features, her intelligence, her sense of humor and her resourcefulness would have been dwarfed by just one of her boobs.

edit - actually screw it i'm out.

have fun trying to sate women-kinds appetite to self-righteously critique the appearance of women-kind.

I agree it feels kind of irrelevant to have hyper-sexualization debated about in the media. We want beautiful people whether it's men or women even in videogames. Of course men are the main target for the market so they add some dimension to them, yeah it sucks but men more easily identify with a male protagonist. Appealing to female gamers is something a company has to take a chance on and the problem is male gamers it's the lack of females gamers clamoring for it.

As far as strip clubs, porn, or prostitution I see that as a show of weakness by men. Now do these industries attract horrible instances of abuse? Oh hell yeah, whether it's minors or women who have no place left to go it does make you wanna say that's enough to justify completely getting rid of it but that seems too far. Instead legalize, regulate, and tax; the regulation will solve any health concerns and the minors problem. As far as women that have no other where to turn... well they have no where else to go if I was in that position I'd do whatever i had to get by at least if it's legal and regulated you now there is less of chance of things going wrong. Feminists will complain but banning it would actually have physical repercussions that will be much worse than the act itself. It's like abortion, no one wants to go through with it but getting one in a back alley is so much worse.

Edit: example for videogames, Kratos from god of war the first game. The women at the beginning are a game mechanic just like killing guys. It's meant to build kratos as a fucking bad ass mans man which is what the creators wanted to do, did he have to fuck two women to do that... prolly not but it's a tool for character development.

But you look at the goddess and his wife you seem them as having emotion, usually only one dimension but they are the main protagonists or enemies. They are sexualized but at the same time artistic in their portrayal unlike the women at the beginning of the game. That is an example of good character creation and development, now ask yourself how common it is in videogames to get those two things, thats a big reason that the female minor characters don't get represented well... the developers don't have the ability.

dmase:
I agree it feels kind of irrelevant to have hyper-sexualization debated about in the media. We want beautiful people whether it's men or women even in videogames. Of course men are the main target for the market so they add some dimension to them, yeah it sucks but men more easily identify with a male protagonist. Appealing to female gamers is something a company has to take a chance on and the problem is male gamers it's the lack of females gamers clamoring for it.

Is there really a lack of female gamers clamouring for it, though? The ratio of male to female gamers is approaching 50:50 quite fast, and as it does there is more and more examination and criticism of the way women are portrayed. I think that's evidenced by the fact that quite a few games companies now are making the effort to appeal to both a male and female audience.

boots:

dmase:
I agree it feels kind of irrelevant to have hyper-sexualization debated about in the media. We want beautiful people whether it's men or women even in videogames. Of course men are the main target for the market so they add some dimension to them, yeah it sucks but men more easily identify with a male protagonist. Appealing to female gamers is something a company has to take a chance on and the problem is male gamers it's the lack of females gamers clamoring for it.

Is there really a lack of female gamers clamouring for it, though? The ratio of male to female gamers is approaching 50:50 quite fast, and as it does there is more and more examination and criticism of the way women are portrayed. I think that's evidenced by the fact that quite a few games companies now are making the effort to appeal to both a male and female audience.

There we go, if they are trying to appeal more to female gamers it's because the gamer population is moving to 50:50. The best in the industry will be more willing to go out and make games around female leads because they don't have to cater to one gender.

Like I added in my rambling edit to my original post horrible stereotypical women characters are indicative of bad story. Good stories have a lot less of those no dimension female characters, but none that are fleshed out because male leads(antagonist and protagonist) are preferred by a male dominated audience. In my opinion it's like a self sustaining problem, devs make good male leads and neglect any major female characters alienating a female audience so devs have no reason to make female leads because women aren't as interested in the games. Even one or two good games marketed to women won't do it, I mean would you buy a system or a new graphics card for your pc if you where only interested in one or two games?

These broads should just be glad the mafiya isn't passing them around like currency and forcing them into prostitution. Man gamers are so entitled these days, let me tell ya.

dmase:
I agree it feels kind of irrelevant to have hyper-sexualization debated about in the media. We want beautiful people whether it's men or women even in videogames. Of course men are the main target for the market so they add some dimension to them, yeah it sucks but men more easily identify with a male protagonist. Appealing to female gamers is something a company has to take a chance on and the problem is male gamers it's the lack of females gamers clamoring for it.

I don't know if you meant to, but basically what you've said here is the only way to appeal to the male demographic is hypersexualization, which is completely bogus. You can have idealized characters without them being hypersexual. It is a pretty broad and hard-to-miss line in most cases. Figure like Michelangelo's David or the Venus de Milo--good. Figure like Rambo on twice as many steroids or breasts the size of Venus--too far.

And even if the cast remains dominated by men, just eliminating that extreme sexuality can open it up to women. I mean just look at the balance Pixar has achieved--their best and most successful movies have all had male leads, and as Moviebob said in his Up interview they are manly men doing manly things. Rescuing children, rescuing friends, rescuing colonies, going on adventures. Yet the movies attract both male and female audiences, marginalizing neither. They are just so good the fact that the lead isn't female doesn't even come to mind.

As many others have said, it is not that sex is a bad thing it is that women are treated as little more than objects for men to watch/use as it pleases them.

Here's a little mind game to consider which I hope highlights the problem: If you got to choose which would you rather be called: Capable or pretty? Male protagonists in games (and men in general, if they are given praise) are often portrayed as capable, female protagonists (and women in general, sadly) are often portrayed as pretty/beautiful/sexy as their primary attribute. A female might be capable, but it is mostly secondary to her physical appearance and the other way around for men.

This is why sexual objectification bothers me, because it gets in the way of me being taken seriously simply due to my gender and the fact that I happen to be somewhat good looking. Every time you see a sexualized female character in games, movies or other media or go to a strip club, you are getting sent a clear signal that women exists for men's viewing pleasure.

Lilani:
snip

On the first point I would argue that bikinis are a bad example since in most settings they wouldn't make any sense. I would have the same problem with everyone wearing bikinis as I would with the comedy relief charecter pulling out a cell phone in a medieval setting. If the show was not very concerned with being realistic or logical I wouldn't have a problem with it, but if they show was going for serious and logical story telling than I have a problem. As for whether I can enjoy a piece of entertainment media with sexual objectification, the simple awnser is yes, yes I can. I have watched very fanservice stuffed shows that still tried for emotionally engaging plots and found no conflict in it. As for her looking like herself, I would argue she cannot. She doesn't exist, she was made with the explicit purpose of people finding her a enjoyable charecter, and i fail to see how the addition of fanservice undermines any of that. I am not argueing everything needs to have sexualisation and pandering, but I will say that people should not complain about it so much. Moving on.

on your point about sexulisation being a detterent, I suppose this might be justified, afterall if you are put off by it then you are put off by it. I cannot help that, nor can you. But I would also say that what you personally find appealing or unappealing does not neccassarily determine what other people are allowed to enjoy. In this case I do not mean you personally, but if people said "I find sexualisation of female charecters unappealing" rather than saying it is sexist and implying it is some kind of moral wrong then I would be much happier to hear out their claims. In this case I suppose determining if you should put fanservice and sexulisation into your game and if so how much is more a game of who are you trying to appeal to and less a absolute, you should or you shouldn't in any case.

Finally on your point on women I have heard that women tend to be more word-based than visual and prefer emotional and romantic things to more pure sexual based things. I have heard some evidence both ways, so I do not have a strong opinoin on the matter. As for female sexuality being expressed for males I would say that it is just what many people like and what sells well. Also I would advise not seeing the women in games as representative of your gender. All humans are unique and they no more represent you than the male leads of romantic comedies represent me. As far as I am concerned pornographic and less emotional sex scenes are fine, along with more emotional and less detailed sex scenes. I understand the appeals of both and have no complaint about either.

When you see sexualized characters, there are three questions worth asking:

1. Does sexualizing the character clash with the aesthetic of their environment?

2. Does sexualizing the character undermine the capabilities or interesting personality they are supposed to portray?

3. Are some/all of the sexualized characters of one gender for no credible in-game reason?

If your answer to any of these is "yes", you probably need to do some deeper thought about your characters.

boots:
I think you need to go away and actually look up what the word "objectification" means, if you think you are objectifying your barista by not caring about his personal life.

I am genuinely too tired to respond to this topic properly right now, but I'm going to ninja the straw feminism before it gets underway, for all the good it'll do.

No one is complaining about video games having sexual content.
No one is saying that women in video games aren't allowed to be sexy.
No one is asking for games to be censored or banned.
No one is saying that men can't be objectified.

Try to keep all that in mind before you post. Straw feminism gives me a headache.

EDIT: If everyone could abstain from slut-shaming rhetoric as well that would be lush. Thanks in advance.

Ok, dictionary ahoy. "to present or regard as a object." or from the Wikipedia article about sexual objectification "the practice of regarding or treating another person as merely a instrument (object) to ones sexual pleasure."
Ok then... I fail to see how my point on someone serving cofee is not relavent. It seems like you are treating a person as just as much of a object when you demand they serve you a drink for your pleasure, as when you demand they strip for your pleasure, and in both cases they are equally using you as a means of obtaining payment. Why should objectification only apply to sex? What makes sex so abhorrent, as opposed to other pleasures? On to your list of things
1 and 2. well from my perspective reading various debates on things like dead or alive, I would say that yes people are saying that games shouldn't have sexual content or sexualised women.
3. No, but they are arguing what games should and shouldn't do. Same thing I am.
4. Depends on who is arguing, but yes most will admit men can and are in some cases objectified.
As for slut-shaming... I second that. That along with the aformentioned violence against women thing are my least favorite double standards.

Katatori-kun:
When you see sexualized characters, there are three questions worth asking:

1. Does sexualizing the character clash with the aesthetic of their environment?

2. Does sexualizing the character undermine the capabilities or interesting personality they are supposed to portray?

3. Are some/all of the sexualized characters of one gender for no credible in-game reason?

If your answer to any of these is "yes", you probably need to do some deeper thought about your characters.

Does "because our demographics are mostly of one gender" count as a reason?

Lilani:

I don't know if you meant to, but basically what you've said here is the only way to appeal to the male demographic is hypersexualization, which is completely bogus. You can have idealized characters without them being hypersexual. It is a pretty broad and hard-to-miss line in most cases. Figure like Michelangelo's David or the Venus de Milo--good. Figure like Rambo on twice as many steroids or breasts the size of Venus--too far.

And even if the cast remains dominated by men, just eliminating that extreme sexuality can open it up to women. I mean just look at the balance Pixar has achieved--their best and most successful movies have all had male leads, and as Moviebob said in his Up interview they are manly men doing manly things. Rescuing children, rescuing friends, rescuing colonies, going on adventures. Yet the movies attract both male and female audiences, marginalizing neither. They are just so good the fact that the lead isn't female doesn't even come to mind.

I was thinking of adding this to my post, but the male characters are multi dimensional because they are the lead(antagonist and protagonist). So yeah they make the appeal through courage, intelligence, or resourcefulness. All of these things are brought out in main characters the supporting cast is usually one dimensional whether male or female.

Like I said in my edit to my original post and my reply to someone else is that most of the marginalization of women is because of bad story and character design. Those good characters and story don't grow on trees and most of the examples of marginalization of women in majority of games are done in games with weak story and characters as a whole the women aren't specific to the problem with the game. I use God of War as an example because while it does have women who's only purpose is to have sex with Kratos you also have goddess and kratos's wife who have emotions and a place in the story even though they are relatively minor characters with only slightly more time in cinematics than gorgons.

Gethsemani:
As many others have said, it is not that sex is a bad thing it is that women are treated as little more than objects for men to watch/use as it pleases them.

Here's a little mind game to consider which I hope highlights the problem: If you got to choose which would you rather be called: Capable or pretty? Male protagonists in games (and men in general, if they are given praise) are often portrayed as capable, female protagonists (and women in general, sadly) are often portrayed as pretty/beautiful/sexy as their primary attribute. A female might be capable, but it is mostly secondary to her physical appearance and the other way around for men.

This is why sexual objectification bothers me, because it gets in the way of me being taken seriously simply due to my gender and the fact that I happen to be somewhat good looking. Every time you see a sexualized female character in games, movies or other media or go to a strip club, you are getting sent a clear signal that women exists for men's viewing pleasure.

But charecters can be both capable and pretty. And besides, some charecters are minor and therefore serve only as eye-candy. One could argue that comedy relief charecters are treated the same way (capable or funny?) all for the viewers pleasure. Charecters exist to serve the desires of the audience, to evoke some kind of response.
As for strip clubs, its not that all women exist for the viewing pleasure of men, the idea is this.
1. Men like viewing women. It is something they find desirable.
2. They are willing to pay money in exchange for the pleasure of doing something they find desireable.
Therefore: strip clubs exist and games devlopers sexualise some chareceters. Besides, if I go to a grocer do I get the message "employees exist only for my aid in aquiring food."? No, I recognize that they perform a service in exchange for money. Same thing with strip clubs. You are claiming that female charecters represent all females. They do not. They represent individuals within a narrative who happen to be female. Strippers represent females who are in the business of serving men's (and possibly some women's) sexual desires.

Lonewolfm16:

Katatori-kun:
When you see sexualized characters, there are three questions worth asking:

1. Does sexualizing the character clash with the aesthetic of their environment?

2. Does sexualizing the character undermine the capabilities or interesting personality they are supposed to portray?

3. Are some/all of the sexualized characters of one gender for no credible in-game reason?

If your answer to any of these is "yes", you probably need to do some deeper thought about your characters.

Does "because our demographics are mostly of one gender" count as a reason?

Nope. That would pretty much be the definition of a sexist depiction.

Anyway, apologies for popping in here. I accidentally clicked the wrong forum and didn't realize where I was. I'll leave you all to your discussion.

R.Nevermore:
With regards to Alyx Vance

Would it be damaging to her character if her breasts were double Ds, and you could see a bright pink thong over her low-riding jeans?
Would it be damaging to her chapter if, instead of jeans she was wearing short shorts?

Yes. Sexualizing characters damages them when you think of the impracticality of it all. Would she still be Alyx Vance if she had these features? Yes, not as we know her now but she'd be distinct, but she would never be cited as an exemplary female character because her other features, her intelligence, her sense of humor and her resourcefulness would have been dwarfed by just one of her boobs.

The thong would seem a bit off in the setting, as I don't think it is practical for a dystopia post-apocolypse nightmare. Other than that, yeah Alyx Vance is liked and appreciated for her traits as a charecter that people respond to. I would argue that saying that sexualising her appearance is fairly shallow. Who cares what her bust size is? We appreciate her fo her charecter, not her appearance. If the only reason people like her is that she isn't sexualised then how is she such a great charecter? Also again, men are not slavering beasts, we are perfectly capable of appreciating the physical appearance of both real women and video-game charecters without ignoring all their other traits.

Lonewolfm16:

Ok, dictionary ahoy. "to present or regard as a object." or from the Wikipedia article about sexual objectification "the practice of regarding or treating another person as merely a instrument (object) to ones sexual pleasure."
Ok then... I fail to see how my point on someone serving cofee is not relavent. It seems like you are treating a person as just as much of a object when you demand they serve you a drink for your pleasure, as when you demand they strip for your pleasure, and in both cases they are equally using you as a means of obtaining payment. Why should objectification only apply to sex? What makes sex so abhorrent, as opposed to other pleasures?

First of all, as the list I gave stated, feminism is not about saying that sex is "abhorrent", and the reasons behind criticism of women's representation in gaming are nothing to do with sex being "abhorrent". On the contrary, you'll find that a great deal of feminists these days are also sex-positive. So if you're looking for an argument against strip clubs ... sorry, can't help you. I think women should have the right to do what they like with their own bodies, so long as it doesn't harm anyone.

But strip clubs are different from coffee shops because of the nature of the transaction and what is being "purchased". In a coffee shop the "object" is the coffee itself. You're no more objectifying the person serving it than you are objectifying a video game publisher when you buy a game that they produce.

In a strip club, however, what is being paid for is the performance of the stripper. She is the "object", so to speak. Her sole purpose - and the sole purpose of her body - is to titillate the customers. It turns a human being into a thing: she becomes objectified. Now in the context of a strip club that's relatively understandable, but in the context of a video game - particularly a video game where the men get fleshed-out characters and all the women get is, well, flesh - it starts to get a little grating.

On to your list of things
1 and 2. well from my perspective reading various debates on things like dead or alive, I would say that yes people are saying that games shouldn't have sexual content or sexualised women.

Read a little closer. That is not what's being said. People aren't complaining because woman are portrayed as being sexual, but rather because their sexuality is defined completely by the male gaze, and often it's their sole or primary characteristic.

3. No, but they are arguing what games should and shouldn't do. Same thing I am.

I know, but these topics always end up with at least one or two people yelling about censorship and freedom of speech, so I thought I'd make an effort to nip it in the bud.

Lonewolfm16:
On the first point I would argue that bikinis are a bad example since in most settings they wouldn't make any sense.

Well yes, that is exactly the point and why hypersexualization also doesn't usually make sense. Look at Lara Croft: nobody in their right mind would run around tropical jungles or ancient ruins in booty shorts. It's impractical and unsafe--no cloth on the legs means less protection from bugs, rocks, and the elements, and fewer pockets for storage. But, for the sake of sexualizing her character, they give them to her, reality be damned.

I would have the same problem with everyone wearing bikinis as I would with the comedy relief charecter pulling out a cell phone in a medieval setting. If the show was not very concerned with being realistic or logical I wouldn't have a problem with it, but if they show was going for serious and logical story telling than I have a problem. As for whether I can enjoy a piece of entertainment media with sexual objectification, the simple awnser is yes, yes I can. I have watched very fanservice stuffed shows that still tried for emotionally engaging plots and found no conflict in it. As for her looking like herself, I would argue she cannot. She doesn't exist, she was made with the explicit purpose of people finding her a enjoyable charecter, and i fail to see how the addition of fanservice undermines any of that. I am not argueing everything needs to have sexualisation and pandering, but I will say that people should not complain about it so much. Moving on.

Can a certain amount of emotional attachment be achieved with the existence of fanservice? Yes. But that doesn't mean that it's automatically okay to put fanservice everywhere and expect the same effect. I have a feeling you are referring specifically to anime here, and while fanservice is typical and expected of anime it is not typical or expected of all games. Different games strive for different levels of realism, and when the realism aimed for by the narrative and the world do not gel with the realism that is achieved by the character design then you're going to get complaints.

I would also say that what you personally find appealing or unappealing does not neccassarily determine what other people are allowed to enjoy.

I never said it did, and if I did I'd like you to point it out to me.

In this case I do not mean you personally, but if people said "I find sexualisation of female charecters unappealing" rather than saying it is sexist and implying it is some kind of moral wrong then I would be much happier to hear out their claims.

But it is sexist, sometimes. I have a long speech I could give you in the sexism that lingers in media, but here's the short version catered just to your topic: Often times what happens in games is the males will be outfitted with your standard "hero armor," while the female version of that armor will be the same thing but with lots of bits missing to conveniently show middrifts or cleavage or as much leg as possible. When you've got relatively "normally" dressed men juxtaposed against hypersexualized women, the unequal addressing and treatment of genders (sexism) becomes very apparent.

In this case I suppose determining if you should put fanservice and sexulisation into your game and if so how much is more a game of who are you trying to appeal to and less a absolute, you should or you shouldn't in any case.

I don't know if you realize this, but from all you've said up to this point it rather seems like you're saying fanservice is a default thing that always or should always come up in the design process, and that the decision to be made is whether to not have it. I'm pretty sure it's the opposite, or at least it should be. Unless you're aiming for a hypersexual game from the start, fanservice isn't a natural part of the gamemaking or creative process. It doesn't just happen and unless you're Team Ninja it's not the default mode of character design, it is a consciously decided upon design choice. Designers shouldn't be making hypersexual characters by default and then toning them down, they should be making characters and sexing them up. Yes it is all about demographics, and that's why the design process is so critical.

Finally on your point on women I have heard that women tend to be more word-based than visual and prefer emotional and romantic things to more pure sexual based things. I have heard some evidence both ways, so I do not have a strong opinoin on the matter. As for female sexuality being expressed for males I would say that it is just what many people like and what sells well. Also I would advise not seeing the women in games as representative of your gender. All humans are unique and they no more represent you than the male leads of romantic comedies represent me. As far as I am concerned pornographic and less emotional sex scenes are fine, along with more emotional and less detailed sex scenes. I understand the appeals of both and have no complaint about either.

Please don't tell me to not see women in games as "representative of my gender." When you've got a huge portion of a medium built upon the sensibilities of men and how they see or like to see women, I think a bit of critique is in order. As I said to dmase, you can have idealized people without hypersexualizing them. There are plenty of good examples, and there are plenty of successful franchises built on idealization in visual design over sexualization. In Skyrim you can build someone very handsome and fit, and there are no leather bikinis or speedos to be found. The only time you should ever need to fall back on "sex sells" is if that is the entire point of the game, or if there isn't any redeeming quality about the game beyond the hot babes. They didn't need sex to sell the Lord of the Rings, or Half-Life, or Bastion. So I don't see why we're just willing to use it as a blanket excuse when it really should only exist in the case of a sexual game or a shitty game.

Lonewolfm16:

Katatori-kun:
When you see sexualized characters, there are three questions worth asking:

1. Does sexualizing the character clash with the aesthetic of their environment?

2. Does sexualizing the character undermine the capabilities or interesting personality they are supposed to portray?

3. Are some/all of the sexualized characters of one gender for no credible in-game reason?

If your answer to any of these is "yes", you probably need to do some deeper thought about your characters.

Does "because our demographics are mostly of one gender" count as a reason?

If you're going to run with the idea that hypersexualization is the ONLY feasible way to attract the male demographic, you're going to have to explain to me how Skyrim, Halo, CoD, the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and just about every Pixar movie ever are as successful as they are with male audiences.

Throwing in sexualization that otherwise wouldn't be there solely to attract audience members is a sign that you aren't committed to the content of product you're trying to sell, and that you think very little of your audience are convinced your audience is going to think very little of your product.

I have no complaints regarding sexual objectification.

Lonewolfm16:
I don't understand why people are so angered by sexualised depictions of charecters, I just don't see who is being harmed here.

Well, in fairness there are some indications that overblown sexualised depictions of people lead to deplorable and criminal behaviour. Various social services keep running into sexual misconduct that is rooted in perceptions about sex they get from rap videoclips, other forms of porn and their own little culture of bragging and objectifying women.


One thing for instance which has had the police bearing down on some rather juvenile offenders has been the 'bangalijst', capeverdian-dutch slang for 'bang list'. Basically they grab girls' photo's and name off the internet, from facebook or other social media, and compile a list of women who are 'whores' or 'easy to get'. Trouble and harassment for whomever's on it ussually follows. Fortunately most of them get the book thrown at them for slander and child porn in some cases (because we Dutch may not persecute for 'statutory rape' if it was consensual sex, but nude pictures of a minor of any kind are still child porn).

Not to mention rape and sexual assault appears to have been normalised among some fringe groups, ussually immigrant minorities that reside disproportionally in the lower classes of society.

For instance a trashy news station aired footage of a rape or sexual assault of a young girl by four boys. (no actual nudity is shown, but it's rather suggestive and abusive. I'd not recommend watching if one is easily disgusted) Some things they said are "Shouldn't you do that cunt?" and later on while she protests "Oh, are you going to cry now? Are you going to cry?". Not entirely surprisingly the footage (shot by the perpetrators themselves, out of pride over what they did) set the country on fire.
Those degenerates in the video were 14 and 13 years old, way too early to perpetrate such crimes out of a sort of character defect or mental illness, so there has to be an external influence causing it. They've been running across sex offenders who operated in gangs so young (11-12) they can't even be prosecuted under current laws yet. That far gone at that early an age? Holy shit.


Such degenerate idiots are still as dumb as they always were, but this form of crime is new. So what has changed? One thing that's changed is they're in a culture that sexualises and propagates ridiculous stereotypes of women and men. In the cases of such minorities you're talking about language and depictions of mostly women that put the worst stereotyping videogames to shame.

I've seen it myself too. Some idiot harassing a woman proclaiming loudly how he was such a 'pimp', and being seriously surprised at being told that he's working his way to a good beating. Hello lower class rap fan, loudly proclaiming to be a wannabe sex offender tends to cause such negative reactions? Common sense maybe? It doesn't seem to get through their thick skulls that what they see in such a clip isn't reality though.

Correlation may not be the same as a causation, but it looks a lot like humiliating sexualising depictions are being acted upon by at least some people.

Lonewolfm16:
The thong would seem a bit off in the setting, as I don't think it is practical for a dystopia post-apocolypse nightmare. Other than that, yeah Alyx Vance is liked and appreciated for her traits as a charecter that people respond to. I would argue that saying that sexualising her appearance is fairly shallow. Who cares what her bust size is? We appreciate her fo her charecter, not her appearance. If the only reason people like her is that she isn't sexualised then how is she such a great charecter? Also again, men are not slavering beasts, we are perfectly capable of appreciating the physical appearance of both real women and video-game charecters without ignoring all their other traits.

Sorry to respond to a third and different post of yours before even giving you a chance to reply, but there's something else here that you just aren't getting. People don't appreciate Alyx Vance exclusively because she's not sexualized. If she were a bad character, she would be dismissed regardless of how sexualized she was. However, she is one of the few females in video games that is well-written, strong, and not sexualized all at the same time. You can get one or two of those a lot of times, but to have all three at once is quite an achievement, and very well appreciated by gamers. "She isn't sexualized" is just the first to come to mind when discussing her because out of those three, it's sort of the most uncommon.

Also, I don't get how you can be playing the "men aren't slavering beasts" card while later playing the "female sexuality sells well for men" card to me. If men weren't "slavering beasts" to some degree, sex wouldn't sell as much as it does, and it certainly wouldn't deserve to be the blanket excuse for sexualized women in media for no good reason.

Lonewolfm16:
snip

Okay, let's go through a thought experiment. It's not going to answer the actual point, but it might get us some of the way there.

I want you to picture an "ideal" male and female body. Think of the kind of body which gets held up in the media as a paragon of the masculine or feminine form.

Now that you have the mental image, one question. Why these bodies? What are they designed for? What do they do which other bodies don't?

The simplistic answer would be to simply say that these bodies are attractive in some kind symmetrical way.. so men (broadly speaking) like a certain type of female body, and women like a certain type of male body, and that might actually be true to an extent (although I don't think so) but it doesn't really answer the questions, does it. Why these bodies? What is significant about them? What do these bodies say about the people who have them?

Male body.. now that's very easy. The ideal male body is strong, athletic and tough. It's a useful body, it's a body which does things. It's a body which exerts power in the physical environment. It's a body which commands respect.

Female body. Much harder. What does it do? The answer is actually kind of sad, because really the ideal female body is simply there to look nice. Its only social purpose is generally to be appealing to men. It has no value beyond that. It is not attractive because it denotes any particular capability beyond (arguably) the ability to bear children which is common to almost all women.

The reason this exists is actually pretty obvious, and as far as anyone can tell it's not due to some overarching hardwired trend stretching back into eternity. Different societies often have very different ideas of what is beautiful in both men and women, with the key difference being that male beauty generally signifies something which a given society as a whole finds more valuable than simply looking nice. The reason is because, historically, men have generally held a great deal of control over public life, and the extent of women's agency or capability has been measured by their ability to trade their sexuality to men in exchange for comfort, security or influence.

The role of women in history (and arguably still today) is primarily based around being a sexual object, because trading the ability to sexually gratify men is the only way the "ideal woman" can achieve any meaningful influence or personal autonomy in society.

Incidentally, this is why it isn't good enough to simply stick a character in a leather bikini and say she's really empowered because she's a strong woman who is comfortable with flaunting her sexuality. No, she's not. She's exactly the same soft-centred fantasy of sexually available womanhood your grandfather used to jerk off to with a superficially "spunky" girl-power packaging. There are underlying preconditions being carried over here which continue to determine male and female sexual behaviors and roles along very fixed (and very unequal) lines.

So yeah, if it was just fictional women being "objectified", noone would give a shit. But it isn't. It absolutely mirrors the real world around us, indeed, it's only become a part of our culture because that real world is the way it is. The way we view fictional characters is kind of inseparable from the way we view real people, and if we're going to reduce a hypothetical female sexuality to the status of a thing which exists purely for male gratification. Well, guess what, maybe that has some bearing on how actual female sexuality is treated in the real world.

DevilWithaHalo:
I have no complaints regarding sexual objectification.

Neither. Having a penis certainly has its advantages.

it's just a made up word.
no one thinks of a sex partner as an inert object.
it's a word chosen for its distasteful etymological connotations.
it creates an instant mental picture of someone mindlessly pounding away.
women don't want to be an object.
men don't want an object either.
and never casually accept the assertion that you do.

and as for characters in video games, i can picture a billion things in my minds eye, in the flicker of a single moment, that are more of a turn on than anything i've ever seen or will ever likely see in a video game.

no one (and especially not "Women" collectively) will ever agree on what "woman" should look like in any medium.

but they will try to tell you how to think.
that you look at a sexy woman and think "oh smexy..." and that that's bad.
but when they look at the same woman and think "10 dollar tramp..." that's good.

look at the inanity of asking if it would be ok to afford Alyx a VPL or would that be crossing the line.
y'know the truth ? Alyx could look completely different and she'd still be Alyx.
that includes being drawn in countless other outfits other people might not approve of.
if Alyx was real woman it would be her right to wear whatever the fuck she wanted (right on sister!)
...until other women started passing comment...and it would be other woman predominately.
me ? i couldn't even tell you what she wears.
but then i don't buy Heat, or OK, or FeMail, or Vogue or a million others either.

but remember guys we're the big ones for judging people (and especially women) on appearance...

try and understand that one of the reasons people want to talk about how people think is to control it because most of you cannot think without words to form "thoughts" but vocabulary, grammar and the usage rules of created words limit how they can be written and thus also how they can be thought.

a great deal of what you are told about how the world is will not line up with your own life experience and thus reality.

women comment on women (and mens) appearance right down to infinitesimal minutia.
its one of their main things to talk about: "how X looks".
it's always subjective, it's always self righteous, its always judgemental, its always cruel. (nearly).
anyone who has lived in the company of women knows what i'm talking about.

its a bit rich when they start telling us how we do this and how it's soooo fecking bad.

People have been sexually objectified since the beginning of human art. It remains in modern art forms.

what about sex toys?

Friendly Lich:
what about sex toys?

We're not talking about women in general, we're talking about sexual objectification.

Heyoooooooo.

It's simply the new face of Puritanism.

I pay it no heed, for it deserves none. There's nothing wrong with games which cater only to select groups, be it "casuals", "hardcore", "women", or "men". You want things your way? Then you indicate your willingness to pay as much as the (perhaps larger) groups which do get their way (...and actually do pay for the products catering to you). And, soon enough, you'll get yours as well.

And it's all fictional: Why would Duke Nukem 3D propagate real life sexism any more than GTA propagates real life car theft? People talking about "objectification" are the exact same kind as the ones who talk about the terrible cultural influence of "violent video games", and they have as much empirical evidence to back up their views.

Sleekit:
no one thinks of a sex partner as an inert object.

"Objectification" doesn't necessarily have anything to do with "object" in the sense of an inanimate object. It's actually more closely related to the subject-object problem, specifically what that page calls the epistemological problem of other minds.

Objectification doesn't require you to literally treat someone else like an inanimate object (though that is also called "objectification" and is a fetish for some people), it's when you fail to treat someone else as if they have personal autonomy, agency or a human mind equivalent to your own and instead treat them as if they exist purely for your personal gratification. That kind of attitude is (disturbingly) still not uncommon, and it's particularly not uncommon in men for very clear social-historical reasons.

Sleekit:
but remember guys we're the big ones for judging people (and especially women) on appearance...

Cui bono? Always a good question.

Masculinity and femininity are both hierarchically organized, and both carry legitimate social rewards for those who can display them acceptably. If they didn't, who would ever have bothered? Thus, it should come as no surprise that both males and females compete with each other to display socially valued traits and positions.

The actual terrifying point lurking beneath the surface here is that women are almost always competing over what is ultimately an incredibly trivial aspect of their personal identity. Why is that? I mean, men compete with each other across a huge range of arenas, from physical to intellectual, and there are real personal rewards to winning. If I can beat up other men, it demonstrates that I am personally tough, independent and that I can look after myself. If I can intellectually overpower other men, it demonstrates that I have something to offer society as a whole.

However, if I'm a woman and I can put down another woman's choice of dress, what have I gained? What have I really gained? At best, I've demonstrated that men slightly more likely to want to fuck me which accords me a tiny, insignificant ammount of power. However, that power is totally contingent on the men who want to fuck me actually being strong, capable human beings who can do the things my pretty little face can't.

The game is still rigged, and when you actually look at who is taking home the winnings in terms of social legitimacy, personal and sexual autonomy, financial and social independence and the ability to contribute meaningfully to society then, relatively speaking, it's really not women no matter how massive their boobs are.

Is it fair to benefit from a rigged system? (I'm not expecting you to say no, but I think it's the real question worth asking here).

evilthecat:

Male body.. now that's very easy. The ideal male body is strong, athletic and tough. It's a useful body, it's a body which does things. It's a body which exerts power in the physical environment. It's a body which commands respect.

Female body. Much harder. What does it do? The answer is actually kind of sad, because really the ideal female body is simply there to look nice. Its only social purpose is generally to be appealing to men. It has no value beyond that. It is not attractive because it denotes any particular capability beyond (arguably) the ability to bear children which is common to almost all women.

I spy a false binary.

The idealised male body is every bit as much "style-over-substance" as the female one. Low bodyfat, visible abs, preferably an Adonis Belt, hairless, favourable shoulder-to-waist ratio. How much of that is functional or useful?

The idealised female ticks many of the same boxes. Hairless, athletic, not too much fat, good hip-to-waist ratio. In short, all signifiers of physical fitness and reproductive capability.

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