Tropes Vs Women Explores The Issue Of Women Being Used As 'Decoration'

I've thoroughly enjoyed watching Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes vs Women series and the latest episode, which focuses on the use of sexualised women as 'decoration' in video games, is no exception.

I realise some of this stuff might be plainly obvious to certain people, but I've always found myself learning something from these videos. Usually that lesson is, 'wow, video games really are choc full of casual sexism'. I understand that some find certain aspects of Sarkeesian's arguments problematic but I find them accessible, concise and well put together.

Well worth watching.


Comments

    I don't like Anita Sakeesian. She is the Frankensteins monster of the Video game world. I will concede that the video game industry is messed up with publishers telling devs to not include females in a high profile spots in games. But at the same time male characters aren't exactly realistic reflections of males. I know this isn't really related to the video but it is relevant to the series she created. The only main videogame series I can think of that has a overweight male protagonist is Mario.

      The problem is male characters aren't realistic in a good way, they mostly provide a power fantasy (as she does point out), like you know I want to be that big buff dude punching goons and getting chicks etc, but what the issue with the females is that they are either portrayed as sexual objects or completely helpless, mostly both.

      Some women don't mind that, some like it, some choose to ignore it but that doesn't make it right and now there are those who don't like it speaking out about it. Plenty of women who it genuinely impacts on, which Anita isn't one of them, see my comment below.

        Yeah but that is for the dudebro focus groups. I'd rather play as an overweight guy than a roided dude, especially in non military games. I think one of the reasons I always appreciated ratchet and clank was because Ratchet wasn't part of a big muscly race, he was a runt compared to the enemies.

          I'm not saying it is across the board, not everyone likes that, but it still doesn't change the fact the issue exists, you can't jump into a bubble and say I'm not like that and believe the problem has gone away

            Yeah but as I said Devs and Publishers listen to the focus groups to emulate the Call of duty. Jim Sterling mentioned this in the creepy cull of female protagonists. The problem is the pursuit of becoming call of duty defining what a game can be, by industry standards and with the emulation comes the issue of trying to appeal to the same crowd. (The DudeBros) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wnTunPrQJo

              And you don't see that as a problem? What you're explaining is exactly the problem women want changed, they want game publishers to stop focusing on their hand picked focus groups because they believe they should have representation in Games because they are gamers

                The Cull of female protagonists is a problem. I will take over sexualisation over a lack of characters any day. In terms of females being used as decoration, it is done to sell copies to teen boys. It may not be pretty, but it is a marketing tool. Sex sells, now whether or not that is correct is something as a society has to decide.

                  "that's just how it is" attitude is exactly why Anita got the the attention she did, everyone just said that's how it is and she swooped in and became the undeserving voice of the issue

                  @piat I agree with your statement. Society needs to have discussions on what classifies as using sex to sell and what classifies as objectification.

        I was actually having this discussion with my wife last night and I'm firmyl of the view that people who I will collectively refer to as "tumblrites" are just hypocrites in this regard.

        This was instigated by a post that claimed that Juliet in Lollipop Chainsaw is a sexualised object and that her cheerleader uniform and various other outfits in the game are produced solely for the gratification of the males who play these games. The counterargument is that feminists would argue (correctly in my opinion) that a woman has a right not to be objectified or judged on the basis of her appearance. If she wants to wear skimpy clothing or even walk around naked she should be able to feel safe from attacks and a man has no right to objectify or judge her on that basis. Juliet Starling is a good example because she's in on the "joke" in the context of the game world. She's one of if not the most powerful character in the game world (descended from a family of witches, being uniquely talented to fight the zombie incusion, etc.) so much so that she doesn't even really take the apocalypse seriously, nor does she take herself seriously. As much as she appears to be exploited, you get the sense that Juliet has complete agency.

        Tumblrites would rob an otherwise strong female protagonist of her agency in order to assert, fallaciously, that she is an object for the male gaze.

        At the same time any strong male character, for instance the various palette-swapped musclebound squarejawed grunt-towers of Gears of War, or the casually badass Garcia Fucking Hotspur (to site another Suda 51 example), are celebrations of the male power fantasy. "No, men" (tumblrites say) "you are not made to feel inadequate by these ridiculous caricatures of masculinity! They are not unabashedly impossible body types or incredible feats of unapproachable heroicism! You're men! you don't have these feelings! When you play as Marcus Fenix you are a space marine and his feats of chainsaw-bayonetting prowess is akin you your mighty erections stabbing skywards at a celestial vagina as you literally rape the universe with your patriarchy."

        Recently I saw a comparison of Hugh Jackman as wolverine as he appeared in X-2 contrasted with how he appeared in later moves, where is is indescriably more ripped. My wife said she prefered muscly/fit Jackman from the earlier movies, where I was envious of his physique in the more recent ones. Not empowered. Envious. I see his actual real life body as an unattainable standard. I'm not going to crawl under the covers and drink myself to death over it, but there's a dude who has a body I consider impossible and I am jealous of, even though my wife said openly that she finds is far less attractive. I think men are more jealous of other men than they care to admit, because society at large believes we don't feel jealousy, and any form of insecurity is insufficiently masculine so we're conditioned against expressing it.

        I know that gaming has been a male dominated space for a long time, and there's still a tremendous imbalance. But if you ask me the main thing holding back the cause of feminists is other feminists. If Garcia Hotspur can be a celebration of the masculine, then Juliet Starling can be a celebration of the feminine.

      Just created a account to say the same thing, I hate this woman with a passion, I have not even viewed the video and am quite disappointed that kotaku would even give her a post (I seen early videos). These types of feminists are all wrong, they just aim to make the biggest bang, in fact she is not far from a troll. Males are constantly portrayed as these hulking hero's constantly having to face death just because its the manly thing to do, why do we have to be on the front line? just because we are men?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrActT_7X6U
      Do Videogame Stereotypes Hurt Men? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios.

      Great video and a good watch even his previous video is good (females in games). There are certain ways to do things, and then the Anita Sakeesian way, all she does is storm into places with her feminist flag strung high, and makes a living off a real problem. The amount of damage she is doing the female gaming population is insane and should not be given the time of day.

      Last edited 17/06/14 10:25 am

        I hate this woman with a passion, I have not even viewed the video

          Her reputation is well documented. The only reason her "show" (I believe it was originally supposed to be a film) got funded was because of the hostile reputation she received. I personally don't like her work because I don't believe there is a major issue in the character design, where as Publishers vetoing female protagonists because they don't think the game will sell is an actual problem.

            I don't agree with your comment, I dislike it greatly, also, I didn't read your comment.

              You are entitled to your opinion, and I agree she was vilified unjustly. But if you know you don't like something would you watch it.

                I don't mind her videos. I agree with most of what she says, some of it I don't.

                  Yes but you blamed batman for not viewing the video when people can and have concluded their views on her from previous video. Your opinion on her is not really relevant since you quoted his " I hate this woman with a passion, I have not even viewed the video". I have watched some of her previous stuff, didn't agree with it, whether or not batman did the same is on him, but you cannot lambast him without knowing whether his distaste for her is based on actual merit.

                I would like to declare myself an idiot. I didn't realise I was replying to two different people.

                Move along, nothing here to see but a doofus.

              I agree with you, but he's referring to his previous experience as a judgment before he has even watched the video. So he may be right somewhat.

              The thing is people need to calm down first. Every sensetive topic always goes all emo. People first need to take a break, not think about it and then a bit by bit with a relaxed mind go over it.

              Everything changes. He shouldve watched the video first to confirm, but using his previous experience to go on a rant is a little eh. He shpuldnt have said anything in the first place if he hasn't seen the video? This is a form of discussion, isn't it?

            How can a hostile reception mean a series got funded.
            Perhaps it got funded because she clearly said this is what I'm going to do and people who wanted that said and wanted to watch that said, I'll happily pay for that.

              Simple, people who didn't like the concept gave it the attention and then people who were previously unaware found out about the kickstarter and it got funded. Jim Sterling explains it pretty well in the first minute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MxANWWhpMs

                That's the reason it is still being reported on and why is made so much money.
                However it reached it's goal within 24 hours of the kickstarter being launched. So a lot of people wanted it made and it would have easily made the funding goal without the nerd rage.

                The main point I got from that video is that people need to start discussing the content of the video not the fact it is another video by her. Or just flat out abuse as a primary reaction.
                I find her videos interesting, in the same way that TV tropes is interesting. and at the end of the day her videos are closest in content to tvtropes than a man hating feminist blog that people seem to take it for.

                  People just fear it because change is a spooky creature and their intuition is to attack anyone they deem a threat to video games, I don't like her content but it doesn't affect me directly so I don't really care. However if it created major negative reforms where all female characters had to pass a checklist to appease a minority I might change my opinion. (Note the last is a hypothetical and I don't believe in any way shape or form that will happen.)

          @ shadow See what you did there? That is my point about her, you took what I said and cut it just right so it goes 100% in your favour, but if you where to read on I have viewed her videos previously.

          Instead of having a conversation like PBS Digital Studios, he is great for so many reasons, he is open about the topic, he will often state multi opinions of varying backgrounds, "while I do not tend to agree, bob also goes on to say....". He discusses it in a open matter that allows people to really understand the subject not only from his view but a non biased standpoint, allowing you the viewer to form your own opinions and discuss them in a open manner.

          Anita Sarkeesian’s videos on the other hand are always just massive attention grabbing tripe.

          Last edited 17/06/14 7:55 pm

    The problem she presents is real.

    Many of her points are valid.

    She is not the person to address this. In fact the way she has gone about this makes her the last person who should be addressing this, she has taken a real issue, turned it into a witch hunt for her own personal gain.

      But like I've always said, if everybody wasn't ignoring these problems from the start or didn't wait this long to do so, she wouldn't exist.

        Huh, well said.

          It's like Batman knocking the Joker into a vat of acid. Yeah, the Joker may be a homicidal maniac, but is that the result of his own mental problems or is his mental problems the result of Batman?

            No, it would be like if the people of gotham got together and said "hey we need to do something about this joker guy, permanently, he keeps getting out and killing people, he needs to end" and batman put his hand up and said "I'll do it" then didn't drop him into acid and the people of gotham said "well at least someone is doing something"

            I am sure there was a spin off series that explored that idea. A world where the Joker was able to rehabilitate and become a normal functioning citizen without Batman and Batman's inability to accept it eventually causes the Jokers relapse. (Or 3 different comics, the Batman vs Joker thing is easily one of the most interesting ideas to explore)

            Anyway, I agree with what you are saying but I don't see Anna in that category. I don't dislike her videos as she makes good points, what I dislike is her dishonesty and how she is using the issue to further her career and not to promote change. She wanted the very worst of the gamer culture to come after her, not to highlight a disgusting minority but because she could use that to further her own agenda. She revels in the backlash because it gives her the identity of a woman under attack fighting back.

            She lies and steals and any form of constructive criticism or questioning of her motivation are lumped in with the vocal crazies.
            It's still a self fulfilling prophecy as you say, but not quite as benevolent as the Batman/Joker idea.

            Last edited 17/06/14 11:36 am

              Read the Comic Bedlam. It's about a psychotic villan who is rehabilitated and trying to help society. One if my favourite series.

              One of those comics is called "Going Sane" and it is about what happens to the Joker when he believes he has killed Batman. It's a very good read!

        Seems like the same ideology the people of this country bought into for asylum seekers "we can't just ignore the problem, so instead of doing to correct thing we will elect someone to do *something*" and look where that got us.

        Saying at least someone is doing something does not make it right and doesn't always help the issue, like the above.

        For the record I'm not comparing the issues, wouldn't dream of it, just pointing out that I don't think it's a good attitude.

          That's not a great comparison. This series isn't about "doing something" itself, it's about giving people the knowledge to realise that something needs to be done, which is the first hurdle.

          The asylum seeker stuff was definitely a case of "at least we're doing something", though :P

            But the way she does it is falling on deaf ears and just making the people who don't want it to change to dig in even harder, hence why she is the wrong person to do it, it's not that the problem doesn't need a voice, it needs the correct voice.

              Yeah, but sometimes it is necessary to overboard. She is doing that exactly. She will cause an effect that will cause some sort of change and if it gets out of hand the worst case scenario is that the same thing happens again and we get a male version of her?

              Let her do her thing. Everything takes time. Sometimes we just need to move out of the way. I know she's not the right person, but where is the right person and what are they doing?

                Let her do her thing? Yeah so that we can end up with bland, uninspired, politically correct games, how about we let developers do their thing, don't like it? don't buy it. Simple. I actually watched that whole video end to end, the examples she uses are mostly pretty much inspired by real life, the issue isn't sexism in games it's sexism in society.

              Unfortunately anyone who stands up gets treated the way Sarkeesian is, which is why it doesn't happen often.
              I'm actually not a huge fan of her specifically, and I'm not sure what it is. I think it is something to do with her delivery, but I consider the message worth it so I'll deal with my own issues.

                It is absolutely the delivery and the content, she just doesn't bring a good arguments to the table and just comes across as a whiney annoyance. She is more of a hinderance to her cause because she isn't being informative and is just fueling the fires of sexism, people like her with over the top attitude cause more people to become sexist than actually inform people of anything.

        Kind of irrelevant, she's not good at her job and rarely has any true insight. Her content hasn't grown from her first video. Just because she stands for a noble issue doesn't male her right, just like many others who've misrepresented important cultural developments. Support women, not Anita.

          But that's what I'm saying. If we were supporting these issues in the past, she wouldn't exist at all.

      Dunno about gain; seems to be the opposite of gainful for her.
      More likely she's just passionate about it

      This comment is what I wanted to say as well.

      "She has taken a real issue, turned it into a witch hunt for her own personal gain"

    No. Not again! It's too soon!! The internet is not ready!!!

      Don't tell that to the backers, she was meant to finish the series within a year, it's now closer to 3 and like half way? done

        Didn't she get extra funding? I know that everybody is allowed to do what they want with that extra funding, but if she was truly passionate about this subject she would have used that money to increase productivity.

          She added 2 extra episodes and she claimed it was already researched, it doesn't take that long to add a little more content and sit in front of a green screen to shoot it

            According to the kickstarter page it went from 5 videos to 12
            But as you say it is taking a long time, it has been 2 years now and only the original pitch has been completed

            Are actual backers of the project complaining? If they are happy with the progress, then what is the problem?

            Here's the original Kickstarter project:

            https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games

            It was funded in June 2012, so the project isn't as far behind as you've stated. The original goal was five 10-20 minute videos, or ~ 75 minutes of footage. The extra 7 episodes and higher production values are stretch goals.

            The first three released videos almost hit the 75 minute mark, so you could argue that she had completed the original promised work in August 2013 and has been working to fulfil the stretch goals since then.

    There IS an issue with how women are presented in video games. Some of the actual core arguments Anita raises are perfectly reasonable. But her way of raising them is absolutely NOT the right way to go about it.

    It's hilariously biased, grasping at straws clickbait. She'll ignore genuine examples of sexism in games, while stretching the limits of credibility by arguing sexism in situations where there is none. And it actually does the feminist movement more harm than good, because it gives MRAs more ammunition for their "feminazi" bullshit.

    Let's not even get into the whole controversy surrounding the gameplay footage Anita uses.

      Yeah. I really want to be supportive of her message, because it is an important one, but there are so many thin examples and flimsy connections thrown in that it kind of dilutes the message.

      For example, one of the things she claims reinforces women's status as disposable objects in games is the fact that their dead bodies will simply vanish into thin air (21:15). Surely she understands that this is a technical consideration that effects all bodies, and that has no added conscious or inferred objectification of women?

      I'd like to see these videos edited down to just include the salient points, and to only show examples that are specific to the representation of women. If I can kill and manipulate both men and women in the same way, then that's not a good example of sex-based objectification.

      Abundance of "vending machine" hookers in a game? GOOD EXAMPLE.

      Female bodies (as well as all other bodies) disappearing when killed? BAD EXAMPLE.

      There are plenty of good examples Anita, please stick to them.

    *Video about women*

    *FIRST comment response is "WHAT ABOUT THE MENS*

    Typical.

      Well Feminism seeks equality, You can't say something is wrong without acknowledging that maybe the shoe fits both camps. It is like saying all muslims are terrorists, we know thats not true but it won't stop some people from thinking it.

        So?

        you can mount an argument about men in games, sure, but this video isn't about that, and time and time again people have missed that fucking point entirely.

          Yeah, it's like, you can have a conversation about poverty in Australia without having to reference every other poor people group on the planet.

          You can say that that is what the video is about and be correct but the issue stems from the fact that women in videogames are over sexualised and in turn objectified. I mean the series is outright called tropes vs women, however the trope provides an unrealistic representation of of females and males. I mean I wish I could look like Grayson Hunt (Bulletstorm) ripped with muscles or Hugh Jackman.

        Racists. It won't stop racists thinking that.

        I don't really see what that has to do with anything though.

          I was trying to say that it is unfair to assume that the unrealistic representations of females is an exclusive issue. Males especially teens are extremely self conscious with looks but the media never covers that. My point was that it is unfair to say that it is an exclusive problem and that while the show is called tropes against women, the trope can be applied to both sides.

        If we were really looking at equality in regards to her point in this video, then there'd currently be a lot more men in our games to be walking around in g-strings oiled up and calling your name before you have sex with them and then dump their bodies in the gutter.

        The sexualisation of characters in games right now only goes one way, the shoe only fits one foot, so that's not equality.

          Well that is more of an issue of same sex relationships which is a different issue in its own right. The problem lies with the lack of female protagonists for your scenario because publishers feel that players will be thrown by a life in the day of a woman. Jim Sterling explains this concerning trend.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wnTunPrQJo

    I'll be totally honest here - I was in the camp that thought Anita was over-reacting and blowing up the "sexism issue" to be bigger than it was. I wouldn't argue that sexism didn't exist in games, but I thought mis-representation of women was just one side of a two sided issue, as I assumed both genders were represented in good and bad ways from game to game.

    Then I decided to actually watch her videos, lower my defenses, and see if she had any real points to make, and now I find myself not only agreeing with her, but feeling a bit guilty for trying to argue against it in the first place without really knowing anything about the issue apart from I had already built my own personal assumptions and experiences.

    People might be sick of her as they see her as rocking the boat and causing a fuss, but the truth is that boat needs to be rocked. She represents the attitudes of a hell of a lot of people who want games to change for the better, and that change isn't going to happen unless people start speaking up and pointing out what needs to change. She isn't arguing that game designers are evil or that games are made to crucify the image of women. She just argues that there are bad habits that games have fallen into over the years, such as using female mis-representation and victimisation as a mechanic, and she thinks that this should change. She isn't arguing that games stop being about shooting people, she arguing that maybe the motivating factor should be made into something more compelling than "my wife/daughter/female stand-in was murdered/kidnapped". If that can become a new standard in game design, then it's not just female games who benefit, it's games themselves that become better for it, and so then all gamers would benefit from such a change.

    Last edited 17/06/14 10:58 am

      I was the same. I knew there was an issue that needed to be examined and discussed. But in much the same fashion as me acknowledging the existence of straight cis white male privilege, as a straight cis white male - it can be difficult to hear. There's a knee jerk reaction to just go 'Nuh-uh!' and rail against/dismiss the concept.

      No one's asking for men to be sorry, take full responsibility or feel guilty about the state of things. Just admit there's a problem, and do your best to change your mindset, educate others and do what you can to avoid propagating the issue.

        No one's asking for men to be sorry, take full responsibility or feel guilty about the state of things
        This message appears to be lost on most men who respond to these videos.

      Yeah, basically this. You can probably summarise it as the slightly more inflammatory "grow up". If you actually take a mature approach to the issues and what she's saying, there's a lot of realisation to be made there.

      You opened your mind, listened to another perspective, enlightened yourself and became informed? Careful, you're going to break the internet!

      I tried to do this (and I'd not heard of her until she was unfairly vilified across the internet for her kickstarter so I actually went in sympathetic towards her cause) but I found her presentation style so grating and her examples so poorly researched or hypocritical that I simply can't engage with her as a mouthpiece for these issues. I feel like her cause doesn't come from a proper analysis for the subject matter so much as it's a cherry-picking of examples that specifically further her point. It's an entirely one-sided discussion she's holding with herself because she feels (and I concede that she's justified in this) that the other side of the conversation is self-evident and has been going on for years with women having no voice in it.

      I agree with her in principle but because I don't find the videos enjoyable to watch I have no interest in devoting time to watching her hash out these arguments, it's just treading water.

      When she or someone presents a solution we can all meaningfully contribute to, I'm back on board. As an awareness campaign, good on her for keeping it going especially in the face of adversity. That alone does more for her cause than a hundred videos would.

      Now that you are able to watch her videos without the knee jerk defensive reaction. Try taking out the fallacy from her presentations and see what is left behind. She presents many valid points and yet undermines those same points by presenting them as happening only to women, by ignoring facts such as the behaviors seen are able to be performed by both men and women and performed against both women and men.

      What I find to be left over is some heavily veiled anti-male sentiment and the highlighting of many of societies poor treatments of people, including women.

      ps. I understand this is an about women series. I also understand that censoring the information to appear as valid only towards women creates tension and can be as sexist as the behaviors she is vilifying.

        I do try to be objective with her videos, and while I don't always agree with everything she says, the main points she puts forward are important enough to give her arguments credit. If anything her main issue is how she communicates her point, as she tries to use so many examples to support her point that her audience is lost before she gets to offer any balance. This video is a great example, as she goes on and on about examples of women being assaulted in games, giving the impression that her point is merely that games are only made to hurt women, but then around two thirds in the video does she finally clarify that violence does happen to men in games too, but its the women who are often over-sexualised as this violence happens. That is a situation in games which you can't argue is unique to women, so her argument seeming one-sided is probably because her speciific point is only about that one particular side.

        And also, I don't see her points as being anti-male at all. She doesn't accuse men of being monsters, she just think's there are some habits we have that most gamers have gotten so used to after years of male-dominated gaming that we can't see how offensive they really are. She's just pointing out elements of popular games that many women find particularly uncomfortable, even threatening.

    I hate this woman with a passion, and I am so over this f#cking issue.
    Seriously who gives a sh!t, the only way this will go away is if you creatively restrict the people making the content to adhere to gender specifications which is wrong, video games are art and no one has the right to tell what you can and cannot include in your video game. The same goes for novels, movies and other forms of media, just suck it up and move on, don't like it speak with your money, don't b!itch about it on forums that will never be seen.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWxAljFlb-c

      You're the kind of person she's talking about.

        Seriously? So you would prefer that developers creativity is hindered while they adhere to stupid guidelines. Whatever happened to freedom of speech and freedom of choice, I know this'll sound jerky but if you don't like it don't play it that is a choice you are free to make. There is such a thing as a target audience, it'd be like if a men's magazine was forced to censor content because woman are offended by it or if an adult shop was forced to close down because there are children in the neighborhood.

        Naw shucks, she mentioned me :)
        Make sure to not buy anymore sexist games! To show this companies just how mad you really are.

      Because keeping silent has been the path to equality every single time.

      Just ask black people or homosexuals.

        When you are talking about things that actually effect people equality is supremely important, and I believe everyone has the right to do what they like. The problem with this topic is that it doesn't effect anyone in real life we are talking about pixels not actual people. Again, as I have said countless times since Mark voiced his concerns about females roles in video games if it is this important to you show it with your money, don't buy these games. But I honestly believe the vast majority of people jumping on this bandwagon aren't that serious and they will buy the next 'Sexist' game, prove me wrong boycott these companies if there decisions on gender equality worry you that much, it is the only way they will get the message.

          Boycotting is one way to affect change, but it hardly communicates the message clearly does it? How are the developers supposed to know that about 20% of their audience aren't buying games because they feel offended by the blatant over-sexualisation of the women in their games? They'll just see a dip in sales, and nothing more.

          Sure, it's a pain for everyone to hear when all they want to do is talk about how awesome videogames are, but nothing is going to change if nothing is talked about. For all the hate that she gets, the games industry needs people like Anita like now to point out the faults, only for the hope that the next generation of games that come out will be better for it.

            The really sad thing is and this is apparent in nearly every Anita video I have been able to stomach is that she often calls foul when developers are trying to match real world scenarios, racing games, open world criminal games, she only ever focuses on the negative.

            Go to a race IRL and guess what Grid Girls everywhere, open up a magazine on motorbikes and you have half naked women sharing the page. This isn't something that has started in video games nor is it something that video games are the biggest offender of.

            All i am trying to say is once again Games are art, and art often imitates life, the real issue here isn't the video game developers it is society as a whole. These games wouldn't have that flavor of authenticity without matching these real world scenarios, and at the end of the day is not objectification because these things are not real, they don't have feelings or opinions they are much the same as a painting purely there for visual stimulation and the same goes for male characters of NPCs, we don't here male rights groups up in arms about the unrealistic Male protagonists we have been seeing for an extremely long time.

            The thing that grinds my gears the most is that nothing is ever good enough for some people, Anita will complain that females don't have lead roles in games, and when they do the issue is no longer that they aren't represented as protagonists but they are sexualised [like male protagonists], well guess what there are women out there who use body language, sex and sexualisation to get what they want every day, why should this be any different in video games, again this is art imitating life.

            This to me is the same as blaming school shootings on video games, the issue is bigger than just video games.

              The life imitating art argument is one thing, I can agree that games can't take all the blame for acurately representing sporting events where girls are used as decoration, but the issue of sexual objectivication is still just relevant in the real life situation, and it's the game developers choice to carry that objectification across into their game. There are plenty of examples of games reasonably censoring themselves to avoid offending certain groups (such as race), so it wouldn't be a big stretch for them to apply the same considerations here without negatively impacting the game. Will your racing game be any worse off for not having a pair of tits wave the flag? I wouldn't think so.

              Most people agree that objectivication is a serious issue in real life as well, that having half-naked girls at events is just demeaning to them and continuing the idea that women are just sex objects, so if we can discuss it being a problem in real life situations then we should be completely justified in discussing it being an issue in games that represent real life situations as well.

              Also, on the point of nothing ever being good enough, Anita doesn't discount entirely that there are some strong and well developed female characters who aren't sexualised in games, but when you look at the standards and the percentages of male vs female protagonists over just the past 5 years then you can't really blame her for saying that it's a problem. Sure, Tomb Raider, Beyond Good & Evil, and Half Life 2 get brought up almost immedately, but give me 5 other games with decent female representation and you can guarantee that there'll be 50 others with a white male lead.

              AND, when men are sexualised in games (im assuming you mean by being big and buff), that is not a design desicion for female players, it's only for the men. Guys wanna play a game as a fantasy, and having a huge buff dude kick the shit out of everything is what game developers think is their fantasy. Girls aren't the focus for these character designs. You look at characters that women actually find sexually attractive and they'll usually point to Nathan Drake or Ezio Auditore, dudes who are not buff dudes, not shirtless, and not sexualised in any manner that you would see a female character subjected to. So, again, people are saying she's bias and her points should be invalidated all beacuse they think she's ignoring the other side of the argument, but the reality is that the otherside of the argument, while it might just exist, is so ridiculously small in comparision that it's really not worth bringing up at all.

                First off I think that was really well written and you raise a lot of good points.
                There is only one thing I would like to say, you said
                Most people agree that objectivication is a serious issue in real life as well, that having half-naked girls at events is just demeaning to them

                I don't see this as the case, particularly the demeaning to them part.
                Whilst I agree there is a percentage of women out there who would find this demeaning to women its obviously not a view held by all women. The grid girls we see aren't there because they have had a gun to there head, they are there because they want to be they work hard on their bodies and they want to be rewarded for that hard work. Some women believe it or not enjoy the attention and perks of being objectified for lack of a better word.

                So whilst we can argue back and forth about the objectification of women at the end of the day women themselves are actively objectifying themselves and as such they are part of the issue.
                Another example of this would be Suicide Girls a website started by a woman, where hundreds of girls from around the world will pose for naked and in provocative poses, in the hope it will lead to profit. You would think if women would be revolting in the streets is the objectification issue was one held by all women.

                All and all this issue is bigger than just the game industry it extends to all forms of media and beyond I recognize that. So until something happens on the bigger stage and by that I mean a strong movement by women, akin to what was seen when women fought for the right to vote, I don't things are really going to change. It seems to me the percentage of women who genuinely take issue with the objectification of women are the smaller percentage, this of course is all completely conjecture I have no facts to back it up other than I haven't seen a strong push for a change aside from a small handful of Feminists who mostly seem to be more about blaming then enacting change.

                I tried to put this as eloquently as I can hopefully I have been successful, but I am prepared for the onslaught.

          Would you let a 7 year old play a game where you slowly rape and kill a woman?

            Would you let a 7 year old play a game where you slowly rape and kill a woman?
            No, but that doesn't meant he game shouldn't exist.
            I wouldn't let a 7 year old drink alcohol or smoke weed either, but i don't have a problem with them being in society, what point are you trying to make exactly?

          When you are talking about things that actually effect people equality is supremely important...
          When mainstream culture (which is what games are now - they're up there with literature and movies) tells you that you and everybody like you are not important enough to tell stories about, and don't have any worth beyond the sexual gratification of someone else, that does actually affect people, is supremely important, and goes to the heart of what equality is about.

            Yeah agree and if this was happening with out exception you would have a point, but we still have games with female leads that aren't just there for sexual gratification but everyone forget that, we have strong female supporting characters and people forget that too. Where does this stop tho?
            There is sexual gratification is novels, TV, Movies and it swings both ways, why are people getting up in arms about video games?

            Hey but maybe I don't understand the issue...I don't judge a persons worth based on their sex or they way their sex is portrayed in mainstream media, I judge people on their actions.

    Okay I'm not disagreeing and not trolling, just an observation.
    Just wanted to point out that a large percent of the woman in this vid that she classifies as sexual objects are in fact based on the real world. She mentions how brothels and strip clubs have become standard in most open world games, well did you know that a lot of cities do in fact contain brothels and strip clubs and these elements within the game are based on the real world, the way she comes across is like video game developers have invented these things just to sexualise woman. She mentions how car games are especially bad for it, ummm, have you seen any racing events, there are scantily clad woman everywhere.
    Long story short, sexism in games is a reflection of sexism in society, maybe she should spend her energy trying to solve sexism in the real world and the effect would filter in the games industry.

    Waaaah but what about the mens.
    Waaah but what about the arts.
    Waah what about the freedoms.
    Waaah I hate her.

    Videogames are art. This argument comes up alot. It's like the haters think Anita wants to legislate it to be a criminal offense to objectify women in games. Art is not immune to criticism, it infact requires it. Seriously you think that people shouldn't be allowed to critique something because it's art?

    And while videogames are art most of them are not very good art precisely for the reasons Anita brings up.

      I too am an artist and love criticism, couldn't live without it and I never said there was anything wrong with it, I am saying governing who and what goes into a video game takes away from the artists original intent and that is wrong.

      Thank you for articulating my thoughts exactly. People need to be less defensive about this issue. I love games, but most are more Die Hard 4.0 than Mona Lisa.

        If you saw how much time, effort and sweat went into creating textures, maps, characters you might see things differently.

        I dunno, I thought Die Hard 4 was the second best one in the series. Die hard 5 on the other hand... what a stinker!

      Exactly, a key element of something being art is that it should and must be open to critique. Otherwise, it isn't art, it's just...decoration?

    The major argument in this video resides on the same assumption that is used by gun advocates - that violent games are "kill simulators", and do more harm than actual selling guns. In this case, that games with sexualised NPCs are "pervert simulators". The "objectification" issue is also torturous to apply here - absolutely everything in any game that can be interacted with - even if that is just viewing it - is "objectified" under the definition employed. You can - as some have done - use the exact same approach to accuse Skyrim and Pokémon of promoting animal cruelty.

    I think this is possibly the worst video they've done. It takes a genuine issue of concern - sexual objectification of women - de-contextualises with a degree of abstraction that removes it completely from the real-world issue, then conducts a myopic (I'm supposing it would be claimed to be a "feminist" approach, though there's not much evidence of it being so) examination that actually harms the issue it is purportedly trying to address, by presenting it as the single reality of all non-player female depictions. To me, at least, it is more exploitation of the issue than sober examination. Often times I think that's the true purpose of the series, though usually they've done a far better job of minimising and/or hiding it.

    Seriously, how can you use the example of Red Dead Redemption, that is an accurate depiction of the period, Woman didn't have equal rights and it was a big issue, how can you complain about a game that is just copying what society was like at the time, oh no she'd prefer an inaccurate depiction of the era where 50% of the Cowboys were Cowgirls. Seriously most of the examples she gives are reflective of society, the issue is with the real world not the games. I also attend a lot of concerts and can tell you that woman objectify themselves a lot more than men, how many ladies flash their boobs in a concerts compared to wang dangling. Sexism is a terrible thing and shouldn't be trivialized in these bullshit whiney videos, they are more detrimental to her cause than anything else, maybe she needs to address the issue differently because she just comes off like a huge finger pointing moron.

    Unfortunately with "Radical Feminists" like Anita (I wouldn't call her an actual Feminist btw) their questions/complaints have no answer; for every answer becomes a new problem.

    Male in games - "Not enough female leads in games"
    Female lead in game - "She's too sexualised"
    Average looking female in game - "She's not good looking enough and needs the be a leader"
    Badass, take no shit female lead - "She's too male in tone"

    While I agree that there is a problem with a lack of females in video games, especially after Assassin's Creed Unity at E3, but the other problem is in the perception and attitude of the rad-fems like Anita whom are delivering the message. They want something, but they will never tell you what because then they will have nothing to complain about.

    A Feminist would be happy with the option of a Female lead or a Female Character in video games. A Radical Feminist is unhappy with all options.

      Strawman, No True Scotsman, pick a fallacy and stick to it.

        Calling something a strawman doesn't make it so. Can you support that claim? Is he wrong when he cites that radfems are often at cross-purpose to the traditional purpose of feminism as an important social movement to equalise men and women?

        All of those arguments @mase has cited have been made in the Tropes vs. Women debate, all by people purporting to be feminists or in support of the truer feminist cause(s). Sarkeesian herself has previously cited "strength" as a purely masculine trait but still complains about the lack of "strong" female characters.

        What should remain the focus here, though, is that these videos don't purport to be a solution, just a discussion of the issues. I don't think Sarkeesian's videos are very good, but they at least give us something to discuss. I don't agree with everything she says, and I don't think anyone should ever just parrot things they hear in an internet video with a specific agenda, but what's important is that we don't dismiss this discussion as not being worthwhile.

    I really wish Anita Sarkeesian would just go and make a bloody video game that she is happy with..... Its the only way she is going to solve her problems with games. I'm sure she could find enough female programmers and artists to pull something together.....I know I would probably buy it.

    Last edited 17/06/14 1:03 pm

      That's the main issue I have with all these feminist. The predominant problem is game development is big money investment and the cost is going up. Voice actors, animators, the works. No sane investor is going to pour money to fill a pot if it can't be use to grow a money tree. Makes sense in a cold business way, if I can sell 5% more copies or generate more publicity and all I have to do is to show some skin on the female "decor", it's going to be done!

      What these feminists needs to do is to show it's not just viable, but actually more profitable to make a game of their agenda. However, most of the time all I can see is more talking. Sure it's easy to talk when the millions are not coming out of their pocket. Hopefully more of them can just make the damn perfect game they envision and be the real life female main protagonist instead of the female "decor" that constantly nags on the male protagonist to do something.

      Last edited 17/06/14 1:53 pm

    I don't believe that she is wrong a lot of game developers are using females characters as nothing other then sexual objects, but i think she has an overly narrow view of the world, there are brothels in most countries, unfortunately there are a lot of Asian women that are forced into prostitution to survive none of which is good, and unfortunately a lot of poverty stricken areas this is a way of life, again not a good thing, but this women takes every game that has a brothel or a prostitute in it and saying that's 'bad' with no consideration given for the context of the setting.

    Video game creators do not set out to be sexist. They set out to make games enjoyable, like most entertainment creators in culture. If you're a kid and you read a story about a knight rescuing a princess from a dragon, you don't really care about the trope. There's NO problem with it. Women deserve respect and a lot of other positive things, but this constant attention-seeking bullshit that Anita serves up is just a bad/cancerous form of feminism rather than anything productive... and all it serves to do is rain on what makes video games what they are; fun. I did not even open her video because I don't want to support her.

    The discussion, women and videogames, is a worthwhile one and needs to happen.

    Ms. Sarkeesian, however, is one of the worst possible people to be apparently heading this discussion. She serves as troll bait to improve her standing in a community and generate clicks, and her arguments aren't worth academic review. After watching this latest one I actually regretted spending my time on it, when I could have been doing something more constructive, like making some toast.

    I would love some academically grounded, intelligent, relevant and above all else well researched commentary about these issues. Unfortunately all we get is this tripe. It does the issue and the cause a disservice.

    Other posters here have done an admirable job in lauding the cause whilst condemning the messenger, and I'll leave you to read their posts rather than repeat their points again.

    These seem to be a never ending magnet for controversy.

    Sarkeesian has a lot of valid points, but she doesn't do anywhere near the research required to back them. There's plenty to back it up, but she seems content to throw in completely unrepresentative "examples" as evidence and call it a day.

    This is an important conversation to have. But if she wants to position herself as an academic, she has to pass the rigor of academia. She rarely does, so she rarely has much worth talking about.

    I think she's fantastic. When I first started watching her series I was the usual resistant male. "Oh here we go, feminist making an issue out of nothing."
    But you know what? It's not nothing. I must admit, I haven't played a number of the games she highlighted this week, and I was downright disgusted at their content. As she said, whether or not people choose to play that way is irrelevant. The blame needs to be put squarely on the games developer. I can't believe in this day and age this kind of content is seen as "okay" in video games.

    They are representations of the prostitute profession not sexual objectification!
    Stop the war against prostitutes and their noble profession!

    She is such a troll. She just wants money. This video is biased to her ideas.
    Yes the games she mentions shows women, prostitutes and exotic dancers being abused in extreme ways. But she doesn't show that you can do all those things any NPC in the game, both male and female. Its like she just chose to only show the bits that back up her claims.

    I wish I'd found a way to monetise all this white male outrage and whining, damn you Kotaku.

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