Whose consent? Catwoman's? She's not real. Do you get the consent of all women in the world? All women who are comic fans? All women the writer knows? What if some women think the sexualisation is acceptable and some don't?
I was making a generic statement regarding the sexualisation of women by the media. In cases where you can't get the woman's consent (such as fictional characters), then the "opinion" part of my statement counts instead. And no, get an opinion sample that is varied enough to represent women of all demographics and significant enough to accurately represent a good enough variety of viewpoints and political agendas while minimising bias. Ask statisticians, they have this shit figured out.
If your issue here was that Catwoman is only ever written by dudes, that's not really true. Female writers and artists are, unfortunately, a minority in the comics industry, but Catwoman has been handled by the highly skilled hands of Gail Simone, amongst others.
That proves nothing. Many women have been in the entertainment industry and have still perpetuated sexism as a way of making a living or because they didn't want to fight something titanic and beyond their means. There is a reason the male gaze is studied as a legitimate part of cinema theory in academic circles. It's a core part of the entertainment industry and one woman trying to rebel against it is more likely to lose her job than to make any real impact.
And the apparent implications of your statement are disturbing - do you mean guys can't write Catwoman? That they can write her, but they can't make her hot without being implicitly sexist? What about women who draw sexy dudes?? I mean, those are really shitty criteria to use for identifying sexism. You're right that it's difficult to identify objectification in action, but I don't think the proper response is "if women do it, it's OK."
I never said "if women do it, it's okay." I also never said men can never draw sexualised female characters. What I'm saying is that men drawing sexualised women for other men, in a sociocultural context of underlying sexism, makes it very hard for them to argue that they're not objectifying. Like I said before, I am not accusing them of being malicious, I doubt any of them see Catwoman as a pair of tits and nothing more, what I am saying is that you can't argue their actions look sketchy because of the context they are in and the circumstances that surround them. The best way to sustain an argument of sexualisation without objectification is to make a point of sexualising men equally, and portraying a good percentage of women without sexualisation (and I mean "women who would normally be sexualised", older/heavier/not conventionally attractive women don't count). That would go a long way to convincing feminists that their product is not objectifying women (and not, say, "good writing").
I totally agree with all of that, and I'm wondering why that's what you thought I said. I said most people are going to take being called attractive a compliment. Let's face it, they are. They're not required to, God no, everyone's allowed their tastes, but being physically attractive is a desirable quality, like being called intelligent or witty.
I have no idea how you got from that to "rape as a compliment," but you potholed Shakesville, and that gives me a clue.
It seemed to say that "sexualising a woman is okay because she should take it as a compliment." My apologies if you didn't mean it like that.
I totally disagree with that. I disagree with that on a fundamental, base, instinctive level. I disagree with that because the logical implication of subconscious sexism is that you can be sexist without knowing or intending to, and that's ridiculous.
That's exactly how sexism works. If only the men who are violently and hostilely misogynistic were sexist, then all we'd need to do would be to call them out on it and bam, there wouldn't be any more sexism. Or at least it would be constrained to very specific people. It doesn't work like that. Sexism is a subtle, pervasive trait in society that is perpetuated when people think it's okay to do this or that sexist thing.
That would make a stupid number of people sexist. That would make everyone at Rocksteady sexist because they've upheld something sexist. Everyone at DC would be sexist. Every guy who's bought a Catwoman comic would be sexist, because he's upholding something sexist. Every guy who's bought a comic made by DC would be sexist. That would make the guy who runs the store sexist. The parents who give their kids money to buy the comics would be sexist. The bus driver who drove the kid to the comic store would be sexist. Literally every person causally involved in the generation of revenue from the sale of a comic would be sexist, because we've taken intent out of the equation and then all that matters is whether they're "upholding" sexism.
You have the right idea, but you took it too far. The bust driver, for example, can't be sexist if he has no idea of what's going on. The parents have no idea what the kid is going to do with their money. Furthermore, a lot of the people you mention may realise that they are helping in the production of a sexist product but they are still forced to do it in order to keep their jobs. That still makes them somewhat responsible, but it doesn't quite make them sexist if they oppose what they're doing on principle.
I think you can offend someone unintentionally, and people are obviously going to disagree over whether something's offensive, and they have the right to. But you can't say that you're an unintentional sexist. I mean, the law draws a distinction between direct and indirect discrimination, but even indirect discrimination doesn't match what you're saying (it has to do with the application of standards that have a discriminatory result.)
I'm not talking about discrimination laws. Those laws refer specifically when a person is directly harmed or put at a disadvantage due to discrimination. Putting out a game like DoA directly harms nobody and puts no person at a disadvantage. That means that discrimination laws obviously do not apply. That doesn't mean that it's not riddled with sexism. That also doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. I believe in free speech, so I believe that sexist games should be allowed to exist. However, I frown on people who try to defend them by claiming they're not sexist at all. In fact, games like DoA wouldn't be a problem if the background context was different. If we had a male version of DoA with guys in thongs (with jiggling/bouncing physics for their bulges the same way DoA has them for breasts), I wouldn't be citing it as an example of objectification. If we had a sexualised male superhero for every sexualised female hero, nobody would say that the comic industry is sexist.
The problem is that the entertainment industry, by large, is made up of straight men making movies, TV shows, comics, videogames and so on for other straight men. Straight women and LGBT people have their niches, but there is no balance or equality. Straight men are still the majority. That's where the sexism and objectification comes from, not from any specific example. Straight men sexualise attractive women and dress men sensibly because they think that's normal, and they think that's normal because their industry is made up of straight men who have no other viewpoints to listen to but their own.
I disagree with this also. Objectification is, basically, the conceptual reduction of a person to an object. It's thinking of women in terms of walking breasts rather than as people with goals and motives.
Giving characters goals and motives that are believable and which evoke the actions of real people is exactly what good writing does. If the writing is good, the character is never objectified, because they become indistinguishable from a person. If the cast of Dead or Alive had all been three-dimensional characters as nuanced as Jaime Lannister, Dead or Alive wouldn't have been sexist at all, because at no point would it made the sexist implication that its cast were a walking pair of tits playing volleyball for our perverted amusement.
That's what makes Dead or Alive sexist. It's not the bikinis. It's the implication that the sexy women there are just walking tits, not people or even characters that mimic people. If you don't recognise that step, you're not making a distinction between sexualisation and objectification.
Even if the entire cast of Dead or Alive had been three-dimensional, reciting Shakespeare and pondering deep truths about life, the universe and everything in between, that still wouldn't have erased the fact that it was a game about half-naked women playing volleyball for the audience's amusement.
It's like Spec Ops: The Line. Just because it is an intelligent game that actively condemns warshooters doesn't mean it's not a warshooter (and I say this as someone who approves of Spec Ops's message).
How is this coherent with the above statement?
OK. Now more generally, I noticed a bunch of things about your position I find questionable.
You talk a lot about social conditions as a cause of sexism and a framework in which sexism occurs. I think you used the word "miasma" several times. I acknowledge the effect that social conditions has in the formation of a person's views as they mature, but I don't think that talking about sexism as a miasma rather than in terms of personal prejudice is useful because it removes the individual's decision to be or not be sexist and instead imputes moral blame onto all individuals within the "miasma."
On the contrary. You can never stop being sexist if you don't acknowledge you are sexist. If you think "sexism is what other people do", you are blind to your own instances of sexism. Accepting that we can all be sexist leads to us self-analysing our actions because we acknowledge the possibility that we can be accidentally sexist, which leads us to being more effective in preventing it. It's just like accepting that we can all make mistakes. It leads us to being more careful in our jobs and daily life. If we accept that we can all have a car accident, we will all be more careful driving. If we accept that we can all have a firearm-related accident, we will all be more careful handling firearms. If we all realise that even the most experienced chef can cut him/herself by accident, we will all be more careful handling sharp objects.
If I live in a sexist miasma, how do I not be sexist? Is it by not acting sexist? How do I know what acting sexist is if I could be subconsciously sexist? Who tells me what is or isn't sexist - are they subconsciously sexist? Who is responsible for the sexist miasma in the first place? What do I do when two people of the discriminated sex profess different opinions over what is or isn't sexist? It all gets rather messy, and I vastly prefer a framework where the intention of the individual is the primary fault element.
Of course you prefer it that way. That way, you can just firmly believe at all times that you don't intend to be sexist and voila, you're not sexist. That's a very comfortable way of living, so I don't blame you at all for preferring things to work that way. Sadly, that's not really how it works. The best way to avoid being sexist is by self-analysing your behaviour as much as you can. Thoughtlessness is your enemy. Secondly, you shouldn't expect to be free of sexism. When someone says you're acting sexist, apologise (even if you disagree) and either avoid acting that way or remove yourself from their presence or the conversation. Saying "I disagree with your assertion, but I respect your viewpoint and I'm sorry if I inadvertently offended you" is the absolute best way to prove you aren't sexist, since it acknowledges the possibility of being sexist while clarifying that don't intend to be, and while maintaining a civil and professional conduct. Getting defensive and arguing with a woman over sexism only proves her right, even if (you think) she was wrong. People will always have differing opinions over whether something is sexist or not. You are allowed to have your own, and it will almost always disagree with someone else's. The key is saying your piece and then staying out of the way. A lot of people automatically dismiss any accusation of sexism, whether founded or not, and that doesn't make the sexism go away, it only sweeps it under the carpet. In the interest of fighting the sexism in society, it's important not to support the endless dismissal of people trying to raise awareness of sexism.
I don't think you adequately recognise the distinction between sexualisation and objectification. Maybe you do, but you're not wording it very well. You talk a lot about a character being sexualised and then act as if that automatically amounts to objectification, as if merely being attractive reduces a person to an object whose sole notable quality is being physically attractive.
I don't think that works as a framework. We have to be able to have beautiful people in our creative media without being sexist. I mean, Hollywood goes to ridiculous lengths to make sure its actors are all physically perfect specimens - male or female. The same factors drive comics artists to only draw incredibly buff dudes or incredibly sexy ladies. It's because we like looking at beautiful people. If we're at the point where being attracted to someone is considered objectification and sexist, we're flying head-first through the looking glass and all the way over to Shakesville.
I do acknowledge the difference, but I am very leery of people saying "it's not objectified, it's just sexualised!" as a way of weaselling out of accusations of sexism. When in doubt, I prefer to lean towards "objectification" rather than contribute to the culture of sweeping everything under the rug and dismissing those who criticise the entertainment industry of being sexist. While I understand that it might sometimes lead me to wrongly accuse something of being objectified instead of sexualised, I prefer that over the alternative.
I also want to point out that a man being buff isn't an automatic sexualisation, just like a woman being beautiful or fit or well proportioned also isn't. In order for sexualisation to happen, the intent of the work must be (at least in part) titillation. A buff man in spandex isn't automatically sexualised if the work itself doesn't portray him with the intent to titillate, and I say the same thing about a woman in underwear or even naked. After all, that's the difference between an artistic nude and pornography. When a man is portrayed without the intent to titillate (regardless of how buff or naked he is) but a woman is, and this takes place with a societal background of sexism, it silently (and probably inadvertently) contributes to the social miasma of sexism.
Which leads to my next comment, which is that you seem to immediately discard the effect good or bad writing has on the objectification of a character. Why do this? Objectification is about the reduction of a person to an object, such as a set of abs or a pair of tits. Good writing is about turning characters into pitch-perfect simulations of real people. Good writing is incompatible with sexual objectification.
And I disagree for reasons I have explained before.The difference between sexualisation and objectification lies within the creator's intent, the writing is anecdotal. Bad writing is just the creator being lazy. Whether the author only sees their characters as sex objects or not doesn't affect his ability to make them fully rounded, particularly if he hands the writing to another person. While most of the time authors don't bother with good writing on characters who are nothing but sex object, it's possible that someone else adds good writing to those characters or that the author uses those characters as a convenient outlet for creative writing, but that doesn't change the fact that he only sees them as sex objects.
It also gets a lot more complicated than that when you add whether the author intends their viewers to see them as sex objects too or not, and whether the audience takes a character who wasn't intended to be a sex object and objectifies them, or takes an objectified character and treats them as ordinary characters.
All in all, objectification is a tricky thing to point out, and it's based more often than not on the author's intent and the audience's reception, which is why I tend to err on the "probably objectification" side more often than not.
Case in point: Daniel Craig's shirtless beach scene in Casino Royale is a clear-cut case of sexualisation. But it wasn't objectification because he was the main character in the film, and he was more developed and defined as a character than anyone else there. We weren't seeing him as his rock-hard abs; we were watching James Bond. If he'd been written poorly, he wouldn't have been convincing as a person, and we would have seen him as a set of abs with two big ears running around shirtless and causing explosions.
Well, I would say that he's not objectified because it's an action movie for straight men, so I would argue that any sexualisation was more or less accidental and not intentional (since James Bond is a modern-day no-superpowers superhero, you can't put him on spandex to show the straight male audience that he's muscled and masculine, you need to get him shirtless to do so). My take on it would be that he can't be objectified because, being a movie made by straight men for straight men, it would be strange for a man to be seen as a sex object.
EDIT: Also, I recently found out this video who touches on the same subject, and even includes that very scene (and explains why it's aimed at straight men and isn't the same as sexualising a woman): Needs More Gaze: A Critical Analysis of Hot Babes.
Sorry for barging in here, but I think I understand what the issue is and would like to attempt to explain.
I feel like the idea Darken12 is going for is less of a "You are perpetuating sexist ideals and are a bad person!" and more of a "sexist ideals are what is normal. To have non-sexist ideals, you have to look at society through a different lens."
This is exactly what I'm trying to say, thank you.
and, well, kinda yeah. They aren't sexist in the "I am actively trying to diminish the status of women!" sense, but they are perpetuating the idea of "normal." I feel like there's a big issue with how we view the word "sexist" (as more of a dirty insult than an observation) too, but that's a later discussion.
Well, ok, it's not, I lied. Sexist has some really ugly connotations to it in modern society. It gets tossed in a news report and played out like "X company made a sexist movie/TV show/comic/game/advertising campaign/I could really go on forever/etc. They are now the Bad Guy. But you, viewers, didn't like them anyway/they did something so blatantly bad it's hard NOT to see them as the bad guy." This leads people to associate the word with blatant misogyny and other really overt things. But the sexism Darken12 is talking about isn't obvious. It's been built over ages and has resulted in what we call "normal." Ever notice that when a man is seen as womanly it's usually negative, but when a woman is seen as manly it's sometimes ok, or even desirable? Yeah, there's the whole "women as too manly are always bad" parts, but this stuff isn't really easily defined. But the idea that masculine is better than feminine, and thus men should be manly and women should be womanly, because they can be only so manly before it gets weird, is the kind of sexism I think he's going for.
Now, to be really fair here, I don't think saying "inadvertent sexism (there ought be a term for this, since 'sexism' carries a lot of weight) is bad, and you should feel bad all the time about it" is constructive. It's more like... working on a personality trait after someone mentions it to you. Maybe you have a bad habit of finishing other people's sentences, and they don't like it. If you want to change, first you have to realize when you do it. Maybe your friends are willing to help you by pointing it out in a friendly manner (so, for a sexism analogue, reading feminist material could help, or finding someone friendly to help you understand it. I took a class in college, honestly). Then you start catching yourself doing it. Maybe you do it, realize it, and apologize. After awhile, you're letting others finish their sentences without even realizing it. But none of this is overnight/immediate/instant, and you're not a bad person for having the habit to begin with.
And opinions vary on sexism issues as well as with finishing other people's sentences. To keep with my horrible metaphor, maybe it's a sign of intelligence and wit in your family, but not with your friends. There are a lot different thoughts on whether or not "rape culture" is a thing, and what even describes it. Honestly, I can see the points of both sides and agree with parts that make sense to me. The whole idea is not to place blame (although some people do that and it's really irritating), but rather to point out something that, if looked at outside of the current definition of "normal," could be considered objectifying and degrading. At the end of the day: everyone is a little bit sexist/racist/etc. We're all not perfect. We've all got something to work on. The hardest part is realizing that and doing something about it, whether it's finishing other people's sentences or perpetuating the sexism of today.
Sorry if I'm not being very clear, this is one of those grey areas that can be hard to explain (and I am not very good at explaining things in general).
This is an excellent post and a great summation of what I'm trying to get at. Thank you for helping me convey what I sometimes just can't find the right words to explain.
I'd say that by and large women have had the shitter end of the societal stick, but I agree that men are affected by societal influences at least as much. No one should deny that, and nor should they deny that men are victims of sexism and gender stereotyping too. Hell, you can't even become a male nurse or hairdresser without someone assuming you're gay or a pussy. And don't even think about crying, mister.
Sadly, the tendency is for people to only ever bring up male persecution whenever someone starts trying to talk about women issues; these people tend not to actually give that much of a shit about male issues, they just want to use it as a means to stop the feminists from talking about their problems. There is nothing stopping these guys from creating their own threads about male problems (and we sorely need those discussions), and it infuriates me that male issues get reduced to a conversational roadblock for an unrelated discussion about women.
This, very much this. Nobody is saying that men don't get fucked over by society in some ways too, but it only ever seems to matter when feminists try to bring up women's issues. In fact, this crops up A LOT all over the kyriarchy. Whenever someone brings up LGBT issues, someone brings up how straight people can be screwed over too (by race and poverty, for example), and the same goes for race or class (after all, we all know stories of white men in sore need of work being passed for job opportunities because of affirmative action). If we don't want to hear about other people's problems before our own are taken care of, we are never going to solve anyone's problems.