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I'm a mod and I don't agree. Take the semantic stuff somewhere else, please (second time I'm asking).

what do you think makes it possible for horrible, inconceivable violence to occur against women every day?

I don't think it's video-games.

No ONE THING contributes to massive, humanity-wide problems like violence, sexism or racism. These things exist and occur because of many many many individual factors. The game industry is enormous and influential; billions of people have played games. Thus the content IN games has an impact on us. If that content is reinforcing negative stereotypes, that's bad.

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Andy, I do think there's a line between criticism and advocacy (or, on an extreme end of the spectrum, propaganda)... criticism would be primarily interested in the merit of a work; advocacy would use

Well said; I just don't view it as zero-sum, nor do I view "hardcore" gaming as something that necessarily needs to evaporate to let the medium truly flourish. It can't be the standard-bearer for the

The nuance is that he doesn't believe that belief has anything to do with it, and that a person's actions are inseparable from their character or that there is any belief beyond what is in accordance

@Radio:

I don't know how Sarkeesian's list of examples has anything to do with my request for a clarification on MC Sigma's part, outside of your opportunity to [in]directly insult me.

youve been trollin this thread pretty hard since the beginning, im fine with it

what do you think makes it possible for horrible, inconceivable violence to occur against women every day?

I don't think it's video-games.

okay

sexual violence or discrimination, implicitly support or enable these acts by performing, witnessing, and accepting acts which are not so overt, yet are undeniably cut from the same cloth

I point to my question above - is rescuing women naturally degrading? Is rescuing naturally degrading in and of itself? Please answer this for this statement to make more sense to me.

you're asking the wrong question. i don't believe that sarkeesian claimed anywhere in her video that there is anything inherently condescending, discriminatory, or otherwise problematic about the act of rescue itself. remember, we're talking about video games - depictions of real life - and not real life itself. and these are depictions in which - as sarkeesian demonstrates - both women and men may find themselves captured. when men are captured, they are able to use their intelligence or their strength to free themselves; when women are captured, they must wait passively for a man to use his intelligence or strength to free them.

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Just watched the vid - gonna ignore the convo that seems to have been happening in here since I really don't want to wade through all of it, lol.

I see where she's coming from, and I certainly agree that the DiD trope is a reflection of how people place men and women culturally, but I found her representation to be heavy handed (King Kong was about a woman being kidnapped by an ape? Really, nice job incorrectly reducing the movie, there) and her style of speech to be very drawl (it was actually kind of hard to watch because of that, in fact) - it was like watching someone read a script. I am nonetheless interested to hear what else she has to say, so I suppose her video series is off to an alright start.

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@Tensei:

The discussion is not so much semantic, because the statement "Women and men have equal rights, ergo X is sexist" is a statement I thought deserving of clarification. You can't really discuss something with someone unless you actually know what they're saying. There sure is a whole lot of harassment directed towards me though.

Anyway, I'm not going to play the moral relativism game with you. I can't show why anyone deserves any type of moral treatment ever under any circumstances.

I'm not playing a moral relativism game, though. I am quite opposite in inclination. You don't have to show me why anyone deserves 'any type of moral treatment in any circumstance.'

All I was directing my inquiry towards were your comments regarding 'societal norms,' and it's clear that there is a somewhat confusing nature to these norms which you are arguing for, which was based around a vague notion of 'equality.'

You can't prove a normative sentiment because there are no universally granted premises. So, necessarily, my opinion derives from my own scruples. What's the problem?

The problem was that you never told me what your scruples were.

I think there are indeed normative sentiments/universally granted premises, especially in regards to gender equality. I think they are allowed some looser restrictions in works of fiction. I have yet to deny the existence of sexism in media, and I have yet to deny problems in adequate portrayal of genders in video-games. I have a hard time seeing old elements of standard story-telling as the entirely negative and corrosive force you have painted them out to be.

My argument is that these narratives, through constant reinforcement of the figure of the disempowered female, communicate that women are themselves naturally helpless and thus need men. I think that's a sexist notion, and I am against it.

The question begs to be asked though: how much disempowerment is actually occurring? Does this amount logically transfer to an argument about the nature of an entire gender? I'd say not.

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I haven't gotten the chance to read every single post in the thread, but it seems a lot of talk is going on about the Zelda series in general. The problem with that series relating to the DiD trope is that they're already got the story arc set up as a DiD game. The Triforce necessitates that one character has the Piece of Wisdom, and it's a one player game, so there's always got to be a Damsel in Distress, or at least a Damsel running from Distress.

When I think back to when I first played a Zelda game, I always thought the point was to stop Ganon from completing the Triforce. The princess was just the way he accomplishes that. I think that alone debunks any validity to her being objectified, even if she still is a DiD, to whatever degree. There's been varying levels of disempowerment of Zelda throughout the series but I'd argue that it's a lot better now compared to where the series started.

All this talk has really got me thinking that a co-op Link and Zelda game could be a lot of fun.

In the end, I think sexism in videogames is more of a reflection of current societal norms rather than something completely unique to the videogame industry. I showed the video to my wife and she thought this was a terrible use of time when there are so many other - much larger - women's issues that could've been addressed with the money she received.

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Just because the majority of people (if that were even the case) doesn't care about those nuanced points, it doesn't mean those perspectives should be shared any less. There is not a finite amount of discussion that can occur. Ms. Sarkeesian is just one voice talking to a general audience about her perspective.

True, and I'm not saying that the subtler points shouldn't be discussed ever. My point is that if you're kicking off a series of videos on the subject of sexism in the context of video games and speaking to a wide audience (as opposed to, say, self-identified feminists) then your first job should be to convince people that sexism is a serious problem in video games. Sarkeesian started by pointing out a mildly sexist but extremely widespread trope used by video games. I think a better way to convince skeptics would be to start with a single, extremely blatant example of sexism (say, Duke Nukem or something similar) and then go out from there to show more subtle but more widespread examples.

If she's started from the point of view that everyone already agrees with her that sexism is a widespread, serious problem in the video game industry, then the starting place she chose is a reasonable one. Of course, the response she got on her comments seem to indicate that everyone doesn't already agree with her that sexism is a widespread, serious problem in video games.

In any case, I wasn't criticizing her message, just her delivery.

if youre referring to the video here, it is a pretty good example of the supremely unfair catch-22 ish situation people like sarkeesian face: either they don't have enough evidence, and you get smug assholes like emperor charlemagne bein like "ENUMERATE THEM FOR ME."; or there's too much evidence, and they're making a big deal out of nothing.

I wasn't criticizing her for having a huge amount of evidence, just what she choose to highlight first. I don't think that the damsel in distress is a great example of sexism in video games, because (as we've spent pages discussing) I don't think it's necessarily sexist, so "a lot of video games use damsels in distress" isn't a particularly compelling argument for "a lot of video games are sexist".

we are confronted with blatant sexism every day. you cant turn on the tv without hearing about [...]

Yes, but the subject was sexism in video games. I'm certainly not arguing that sexism doesn't exist, or even that sexism doesn't exist in video games -- I'm just saying that I don't think Sarkeesian made a very good case for it by starting with a widespread but subtle example instead of a specific but blatant example.

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@Tensei:

The discussion is not so much semantic, because the statement "Women and men have equal rights, ergo X is sexist" is a statement I thought deserving of clarification. You can't really discuss something with someone unless you actually know what they're saying. There sure is a whole lot of harassment directed towards me though.

Yeah, let's start talking about the semantic definition of the word 'semantic', cause this thread didn't have its head up its ass far enough yet.

You questioning another person about their definition of the word 'rights' absolutely is semantic. Let's assume for the purposes of this discussion that men and women are naturally entitled to equal rights. There, solved, we can move on.

Edited by Tensei
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youve been trollin this thread pretty hard since the beginning, im fine with it

Oh, so you just wanted to act like a cocksucker. Isn't a moderator supposed to discourage this type of behavior?

you're asking the wrong question. i don't believe that sarkeesian claimed anywhere in her video that there is anything inherently condescending, discriminatory, or otherwise problematic about the act of rescue itself. remember, we're talking about video games - depictions of real life - and not real life itself. and these are depictions in which - as sarkeesian demonstrates - both women and men may find themselves captured. when men are captured, they are able to use their intelligence or their strength to free themselves; when women are captured, they must wait passively for a man to use his intelligence or strength to free them.

I would have never thought that video-games were depictions of real life. I thought video-games being escapism was evident all the way back in the '70s.

As to the last point: the point can be made that that is actually less an issue of gender and more an issue of the fact that you are the player in control, so you are supposed to be more intelligent, stronger, etc. than everything around you. The game exists to gratify you. If it didn't, you wouldn't play it.

I would love more female heroes - Mirror's Edge for a modern example - and I won't deny a skewing towards male characters, but I am wary about pinning that type of instance on sexism.

Now, stuff like God of War harpy curb-stomping (with the accompanying achievement "Bros before Hos") is something that I can easily recognize as problematic.

In the scenario we're discussing though, I would have to disagree.

Edited by EC2151
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Yes, but the subject was sexism in video games. I'm certainly not arguing that sexism doesn't exist, or even that sexism doesn't exist in video games -- I'm just saying that I don't think Sarkeesian made a very good case for it by starting with a widespread but subtle example instead of a specific but blatant example.

again, i would have to argue that subtle ≠ insignificant, and that just because "damsels in distress" is not as Punchy as "TOMB RAIDER TRAILER FEATURES RAPE SCENE", or any of a wide array of horrific things that have already received widespread attention, does nothing to diminish the point she is making in this video, nor her stated objective for the entire series.

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@Tensei:

The discussion is not so much semantic, because the statement "Women and men have equal rights, ergo X is sexist" is a statement I thought deserving of clarification. You can't really discuss something with someone unless you actually know what they're saying. There sure is a whole lot of harassment directed towards me though.

I never made that statement. You're not making sense.

EDIT: I mean no one made that statement. I saw the "@ Tensei" :)

I'm not playing a moral relativism game, though. I am quite opposite in inclination. You don't have to show me why anyone deserves 'any type of moral treatment in any circumstance.'

All I was directing my inquiry towards were your comments regarding 'societal norms,' and it's clear that there is a somewhat confusing nature to these norms which you are arguing for, which was based around a vague notion of 'equality.'

What are you talking about? You're confused about what gender norms are in society? What?

The problem was that you never told me what your scruples were.

You quoted them in this very post. It's where I explain my argument and why I feel that way.

I think there are indeed normative sentiments/universally granted premises, especially in regards to gender equality.

Yeah, apparently not, hence our current debate. What I mean is there is no unambiguous point of agreement on any moral issue that every human being can assent to. This raises the problem of moral relativism. Relativism is definitely not any weaker when it comes to gender.

I think they are allowed some looser restrictions in works of fiction. I have yet to deny the existence of sexism in media, and I have yet to deny problems in adequate portrayal of genders in video-games. I have a hard time seeing old elements of standard story-telling as the entirely negative and corrosive force you have painted them out to be.

"Traditional" does not mean harmless. The trope implies through its ubiquity that women are powerless. That contributes to and normalizes real-world sexism. That's bad, mmmmk?

The question begs to be asked though: how much disempowerment is actually occurring? Does this amount logically transfer to an argument about the nature of an entire gender? I'd say not.

I'm not saying something so simplistic as "if it weren't for videogames, there'd be no sexism." BUT videogames do contribute to sexism via this trope. We've discussed that mechanism elaborately. I think degrading women is wrong, not good; most people agree. What's your reason for disagreeing? And if you don't actually disagree, come out and tell us your viewpoints.

I'm starting to wonder if you actually misunderstand me or just don't want to understand me.

Edited by MC Final Sigma
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Now, stuff like God of War harpy curb-stomping (with the accompanying achievement "Bros before Hos") is something that I can easily recognize as problematic.

I have to ask here. How is Kratos curb-storming the Harpy worse than any other ultra-violent act he's commited to countless male characters over the course of the franchise?

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I would have never thought that video-games were depictions of real life. I thought video-games being escapism was evident all the way back in the '70s.

what i meant was, the "rescue" scenario created by the damsel in distress trope may be said to be problematic where a real-life scenario may not, simply by virtue of the fact that video games (as with all art) are consciously created, and are representative of far more than just the literal content they depict.

As to the last point: the point can be made that that is actually less an issue of gender and more an issue of the fact that you are the player in control, so you are supposed to be more intelligent, stronger, etc. than everything around you. The game exists to gratify you. If it didn't, you wouldn't play it.

well, then i would refer to an earlier post in this thread where a father customized donkey kong for his daughter who did not find it gratifying - she was tired of playing as the male character rescuing the passive female character. a more correct statement would be "The game exists to gratify men," the implication being, "at the expense of women." why must it be that way?

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I have to ask here. How is Kratos curb-storming the Harpy worse than any other ultra-violent act he's commited to countless male characters over the course of the franchise?

Certainly "bros before hos" is reprehensible, particularly in connection to violence against women. As to the violence itself: this doesn't refer to the harpies, but a reviewer for the new GoW game said this about how Kratos kills a female enemy in the new game. I think it speaks to the difference between male and female violence in GoW:

Yes, this character is an antagonist, and yes, you kill other female characters throughout God of War: Ascension. But there's an almost pornographic level of intimacy to the violence here that pushed things too far for me. The brutal, bone-shattering assault on a realistic female avatar was horrific regardless of its context, the imagery too loaded for me to shrug it off as just another God of War Moment TM. And then the assault was robbed of any narrative impact whatsoever by a throwaway story device. It didn't matter. I had to watch it happen and then it didn't mean anything. And then approximately 45 seconds later, I unlocked a trophy called "Bros before Hos."

If I wasn't reviewing the game, this would have been where I stopped.

Review found here:

http://www.polygon.com/game/god-of-war-ascension/3611

Also:

All this talk has really got me thinking that a co-op Link and Zelda game could be a lot of fun.

Agreed!

In the end, I think sexism in videogames is more of a reflection of current societal norms rather than something completely unique to the videogame industry. I showed the video to my wife and she thought this was a terrible use of time when there are so many other - much larger - women's issues that could've been addressed with the money she received.

The thing is, culture does not simply reflect our ideals, it "pushes back" and acts back on its makers, generating more culture. Thus it is problematic if videogames are sexist in certain ways because they foster an environment for more sexism. Are videogames the worst problem for women right now? Of course not. But why not solve big and little problems, especially if the little ones contribute to the big ones? "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

EDIT: I also think that diagnosing sexism in videogames and other media is a good "gateway drug" for thinking about gender issues in general.

Edited by MC Final Sigma
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But those are all informed attributes of the objects that aren't actually expanded on within the game itself. Sure, I can buy that Mario as a character cares about saving Princess Toadstool if that's what the manual says, but I as a player have far less motivation, because again, she doesn't actually do anything in the game that would make me personally care about her as a character. Let's say that Mario has to retrieve the golden wrench or Bowser will use it to destroy/take over Mushroom Kingdom. That would definitely make it a big motivator for Mario, but again, for me as a player that's just another informed attribute of the MacGuffin that doesn't really serve any purpose within the game itself.

What I'm saying is that if you have a very simplistic plot like that, a non-character such as Princess Toadstool is entirely interchangeable with an inanimate object for the purpose of player motivation. All the stuff about Toadstool being Mario's love interest, Mario really liking his golden wrench, or having to stop Bowser from destroying the world is basically fluff that has little bearing on what happens within the game.

This is obviously a point we're not going to agree on. So rather than restating my stance, I'll simply say this...

You can call that fluff if you want, but the motivational intent is still there. And saying that the games I mentioned, that have a man trying to rescue his friend/love, just treat the woman as if she were interchangeable with any inanimate object isn't a fair assessment... to me at least.

The trope has nothing to do with how the game characters view the woman - it's all about how we, the players, view the woman. It is degrading to women because this trope intimates 1) that women are helpless, and 2) that women can only be saved by men. It doesn't matter if these women are beloved wives, sisters, grandmas, what have you - they're still pitiful wimps who can't escape their situation (although male characters always can).

I disagree. We (the players) are only controlling the hero, not actually being the hero. It's not our viewpoint being used, it's the hero's. In the games that use the "captured love/friend" plot, she's not his possession, she's someone he cares about. If the player tosses that aside, then the problem isn't with the game, it's with the player, as they're inserting ideas that otherwise aren't there. That's a very important distinction that shouldn't be cast aside to make more examples for a point.

To me, the issue at hand stems from the creativity front regarding game makers more than anything else; not any level of gender bias from our world's history. I think the trope we're discussing is a simplistic plot device that's outdated, but not intended to reflect any malice, or make a statement about women's societal roles in general. And saying something is sexist when there's no actual purposeful sexism present in what's being shown, comes off as looking for sexism where it otherwise didn't exist. Of taking that history, and crowbarring it into something that's not addressing or displaying it (the history I mean).

You're right that individual instances of the DiD trope are not necessarily sexist on their own, but what makes the DiD trope sexist is that it's a trope. It is legitimate for female characters to be rescued by male characters some of the time - say, half of the time - but when 90% of the time it's a man rescuing a woman, even the "weakest of minds" can see that trend (consciously or not, mind you). By continually reinforcing a narrative in which a woman is rendered indefinitely helpless and can only be saved by a man, it becomes sexist. Period.

It only becomes sexist if you're inclined to believe it does... and I don't. Regarding why, see below.

It doesn't matter why game developers use this trope, the trope is toxic in and of itself. To repeat, the trope suggests through constant repetition that women are ultimately weak, feeble, and helpless - even supposedly strong ones like Zelda. Only men can bail them out, but men can help themselves. It may be interesting for historical reasons to discuss why the trope was used or became popular, but it does not exonerate these games from the charge - the trope is fucking sexist.

The trope is toxic/sexist to you, and those who share your viewpoint. I don't agree, as to me, the arguments being made are too generalized, and ignoring the details. So like with Tensei, this is something we're not going to agree on.

As I've said, I can see why some draw the parallels, and make the connections over the "damsel" trope. I'm not blind or unwilling to look at something from another's perspective, and I thoroughly get that it's a story that's been beaten into a fine paste. We all see sexism in one form or another on a daily basis, so we all know it's out there. And while I know my stance may make me seem like a prick to some, or misinformed to others, I don't agree that the trope in question, at its core, is sexist. Trite and way overused, but not sexist.

There's no denying that women have been treated like shit in this world's history, but I just don't see that history rearing its ugly head with Sonic rescuing Amy, Mario saving Peach, or Simon rescuing Selena. It's just not there for me in the core idea of "man rescues woman," regardless of how many times it gets used. The core itself lacks malicious traits otherwise, and only gains them when the viewer breathes such things into it via their personal agendas/beliefs, or when the writer adds them directly. Until that happens, it's more or less a neutral concept waiting to be made into some kind of a heroic tale, or a diabolical nightmare. But in Anita's video, she calls it something that normalizes toxic and patronizing attitudes, which others have echoed in this thread. My issue arose with some of the examples she used, some of the blanketing statements she made, and how her disclaimer toward the end of the video ("... I'm not saying that all games that use the...") seemed to get lost in the discussion here at times; that the trope became simply evil and toxic no matter how it was used. So, I thought I'd give my perspective on the trope, where I disagreed about its representation, and say that while I can see the point she was making, I question some of the things she did to get there.

And really, if the trope is a statement on anything today, it's on the laziness of the writers who repeatedly use the most basic and cliched plot around. I mean come on, it's not that hard to come up with something better, right?

Of course, all of the above is just IMHO, so take it or leave it as you will folks :-D

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Certainly "bros before hos" is reprehensible, particularly in connection to violence against women. As to the violence itself: this doesn't refer to the harpies, but a reviewer for the new GoW game said this about how Kratos kills a female enemy in the new game. I think it speaks to the difference between male and female violence in GoW:

I won't try to argue against the achievement name. But I'm curious to see the actual scene. I honestly can't imagine it being any worse than some of the things he's done to past enemies, I really can't.

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probably no mistake that it was death by penetration

(lower abdomen, impaled from behind by a giant phallic implement - and far from the only sexually suggestive staging in the cutscene. "bros before hos" is just the colloquial way to sum it all up for anyone who hadnt picked up on the innuendo)

Edited by Radiowar
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This is pretty bad. I mean, it's not the most violent scene in the series, but it did look at one point like he was about to mount her. Like rapist-style. And I think they were going for that for the shock value.

So yeah, pretty bad. Turns out the achievement didn't refer to Kratos' violence, but I still despise that "motto."

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Yeah, I'm not getting it. It really is no different than most of Kratos' other kills in the series, except in this case she actually gets away and lives. It's violent, yes, but it's far from being his most violent kill. I definitely don't see what the big deal is.

Is it only because he's killing a woman this time in an ultra-violent fashion and not a male? Are we saying then, that women shouldn't be killed like that in games, but it's okay for it to happen to men?

Edited by Dexie
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It's simply in bad taste. It's like if you were to kill a black person in a game and earn a trophy called "Coon Hunter" or something. You get a trophy for being violent against a female character using the demeaning term 'ho'. Enough actual violence occurs against actual women, even in the U.S. We don't really need to add to that by making light of it in a game.

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I don't really think God of War should be called out specifically on this front because God of War is pretty much ridiculously offensive and disgusting on pretty much every front; it caters to the very lowest wrung of common denominator, comic book-loving dregs there is.

It's also disheartening to see video responses on Youtube that do a terrible job of both defending and attacking her video.

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