Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

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It's the "damage" (that you're claiming as factual/inevitable) that flows from fictional depictions out into the real world that I'm saying is a nebulous construct.

Now we're talking. Yes, I think this is actually a point that is worth debating. I think my use of the word "damage" in my first post was probably confusing within the greater argument; I probably should have worded it differently, but I was only thinking about my point about female vs. male damsels.

One type of damage that occurs from pervasive damsel tropes is that some women feel shitty about the way women are portrayed. I'm sure you can agree that this happens to one extent or another, though whether or not you think it matters is a different story.

A more contentious point would be that the pervasive use of such tropes in media reinforces preexisting gender stereotypes. This assertion is not one I would consider "inevitable," though I do think it makes sense. The gender stereotypes exist for evolutionary reasons, we agree, and Miyamoto did not invent the phallus.

While I don't think one-demensional female characters should be banned from video games, I do think it's not unreasonable to conclude that when such portrayals are pervasive, they can reinforce evolutionarily relevant but somewhat undesirable attitudes towards women.

This is a sensitive subject because it's essentially the same discussion as "does violence in videogames promote violent behavior." Obviously violent elements of human nature have led to violence in media and not vice-versa, and obviously the same is true of sexism. The question is can we really deny that a feedback loop exists, and can some sort of proactive attempt to address the issue (perhaps by providing counterexamples as you suggested) be successful?

Honestly the only opinion I feel strongly about is that women have every right to feel shitty about the pervasiveness of objectified, one-dimensional female characters. Everything else is much more nebulous.

As for the statement above, as written.... a male character HAS to protect or rescue a female character? As in MUST?? As in, is faced with no other options? Sounds about right to me, and damn... it also incidentally sounds like he doesn't have much "agency" either... right?
Dude. Did you just make a conscious decision to ratchet up the scale of the discussion by orders of magnitude? Cause it sounds to me like you're trying to start an argument about the nature of agency and free will. If you want we can go there, but it will have to wait for another day.

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you've spent the past page or so claiming that the thing you said wasn't actually the thing you said and then getting mad that djp had the audacity to maybe direct some of his post to things that people other than you have said

I think you might need to take a step back and re-evaluate how you're presenting yourself in this thread

Hey there, Mr..Bleck. You seem to have all kinds of ideas about what I should be doing. And that's super. But maybe I can reassure you.

Mr. Pretzel and I are friends. We get along very well. You sir, are no Jack Kennedy. No wait, I got distracted. What I mean is, he and I have known each other for a decade. We are both passionate, opinionated people, and we both enjoy a good argument about...pretty much anything. We both know this about one another, and I assure you that nothing he has said has made me "mad." I take nothing he says personally. We're having a nice, recreational argument. I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable, but I'm not really sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.

Try imagining us hanging up the gloves and having a beer.

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yeah that's great and all but I don't think you understand what I'm saying

maybe if I was a bit more pedantic I'd imply you had poor reading skills

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So, in order to make a non-sexist game, you have to have a female or androgynous playable character, who isn't allowed to help anyone else (unless, in attempting to do so, they actually fuck up the plans of the much-more-competent person they were "rescuing").

It's not that that's not possible - it clearly is - it's just that it severely castrates the art form. Oops, was that the wrong word to use? Probably. Okay, diminishes.

Except that, at the very end, she says "of course, I'm not actually saying everything I've been saying for the last twenty minutes", just like the first two videos.

Right - fire a lot of polarized, irrational, and in some cases factually incorrect attacks, then make them seem completely reasonable by punctuating the barrage with a few measured, qualified statements. A perfectly fine rhetorical tool if you're talking down to your audience, and don't think they'll notice or care. FOX NEWS, anyone?

At this point she feels like she is a talking head from a cable news network. So take what she says with a grain of salt and be angry that she tricked a large amount of people out of money like a televangelist.

Televangelists are much more entertaining, and simultaneously much more tragic, since they tend to be taking money from those least able to meet fiscal ends.

One type of damage that occurs from pervasive damsel tropes is that some women feel shitty about the way women are portrayed. I'm sure you can agree that this happens to one extent or another, though whether or not you think it matters is a different story.

It's less about whether I think it matters (I do), but more about whether I think such objections, from ANY group, for ANY perceived offense, matter ENOUGH to justify framing weak sociological theories from the 1970's as hard, scientific facts that should be acted upon. I do not.

A more contentious point would be that the pervasive use of such tropes in media reinforces preexisting gender stereotypes. This assertion is not one I would consider "inevitable," though I do think it makes sense.

That's certainly your prerogative; my personal view with regard to highly complicated social interactions that cannot be easily measured is that what I might find intuitive could indeed be dead wrong, or that unknown and dependent variables could be involved that frame the dynamic differently. I sorta thought this is what being "open-minded" kinda meant.

While I don't think one-dimensional female characters should be banned from video games, I do think it's not unreasonable to conclude that when such portrayals are pervasive, they can reinforce evolutionarily relevant but somewhat undesirable attitudes towards women.

Well, firstly, Anita's definition of this trope extends well beyond flagrant, one-dimensional, exaggerated stereotypes that you've probably got in mind; I'd encourage you to watch her videos to see just HOW far she extends her interpretation of the trope, I think you'll be... alarmed. Secondly, I'm going to continue my apparently freakish obsession with specific language - it is highly unreasonable to conclude what you have described. It is, on the other hand, completely reasonable to propose it. The difference is sublimely significant.

This is a sensitive subject because it's essentially the same discussion as "does violence in videogames promote violent behavior." Obviously violent elements of human nature have led to violence in media and not vice-versa, and obviously the same is true of sexism. The question is can we really deny that a feedback loop exists, and can some sort of proactive attempt to address the issue (perhaps by providing counterexamples as you suggested) be successful?

Damn, I must be using the wrong logic again!! Which logic are you using? I was using the logic where questions don't surround whether we can deny hypotheses, but whether we can prove them, and then reach an actual understanding of what we are attempting to address, and consider all of the implications. Your logic does sound enticingly streamlined, but I think some other people who've been employing it have been having mixed results for the last few centuries, so I'm going to stick with mine. Tongue-in-cheek here, but hopefully you see the underlying point...

Honestly the only opinion I feel strongly about is that women have every right to feel shitty about the pervasiveness of objectified, one-dimensional female characters. Everything else is much more nebulous.

Amen - to both sentences.

Dude. Did you just make a conscious decision to ratchet up the scale of the discussion by orders of magnitude? Cause it sounds to me like you're trying to start an argument about the nature of agency and free will. If you want we can go there, but it will have to wait for another day.

Nah, just pointing out that DiD tropes of the most flagrant nature tend to appear in games where EVERYONE'S agency is limited, and everyone is one-dimensional, so it's all one big happy family, etc.

Edited by djpretzel

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[J]ust pointing out that DiD tropes of the most flagrant nature tend to appear in games where EVERYONE'S agency is limited, and everyone is one-dimensional, so it's all one big happy family, etc.

I started to nitpick this before my arguments led me to realize that this indeed tends to be the case. So QFT. After all, what does it say about the male hero in games where nothing progresses unless the hero continues his rescue? He is meaningless without his girl? He has no life without her?

Also, while I've been intently watching these arguments and analyzing Anita's videos, there really aren't many damsel-in-distress games I've played. And then I realized: I'm a big fan of games with immersively detailed plots, especially sandbox, branching, and choice-oriented RPGs.

I do have a bone to pick with Deus Ex Human Revolution, though. They dress your love interest up as a futuristic Victorian princess -- the hero's trophy girl -- while all the other scientists parade around in nothing fancier than a lab coat. And yes she works with plenty of other female researchers. I thought that was a bit over the top, and seeming like such an artificial construct of the video game genre made me not really care about Megan or her fate. Thankfully, the game possessed many more compelling mysteries than that.

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Just poking my head again to say the Remember Me does a really good job of subverting this trope. Almost all of the powerful characters are women and almost all of the weaker characters are men, which is refreshing. Notice I said "almost all". There are quite a few capable men and a few entrapped ladies, but overall, I was surprised to see so many women playing major roles in the game.

Women in Remember Me:

Main character (Nilin), a talented, mind-hacking bounty hunter

Bounty hunter who tries to capture/kill the protagonist

Militant leader of a gigantic, brainwashing prison

CEO of the evil mega-corporation

Men in Remember Me:

Main character's "mentor" (really more like the annoying voice-in-your-head)

A freedom fighter turned crappy bar owner

A young, naive mind-hacker

An overzealous wrestler

A power hungry security officer

A disfigured psychopath

A dickhead doctor

All of the women listed are powerful and in control of their life, while most of the men are either physically/personally repulsive or not really in control of their fate.

Edited by Cerrax

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On Anita's channel, she has posted a game concept that lampshades the whole damsel in distress trope. Which if I am understanding her argument is bad because it draws attention to the trope to begin with.

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A little late, but I wanted to post my thoughts on the third video:

Overall, her examples seem to be grasping at straws. The Princess Peach game seems pretty bad when you hear her explanation. It wasn't until I heard the context of the Vibe system that somebody posted earlier that I changed my mind. It's still essentially a hit at the stereotype of women being emotional but when the context is revealed, it turns around and becomes the parody of sexism that Anita praised later in the video. This seems to be the most common complaint about the series. If she didn't really play the games, she doesn't understand or probably care about the context. If she did, and is ignoring it, or skipped over it, she's disingenuous. Context doesn't always make good with the trope, but it sometimes can, and she usually doesn't mention it at all which makes me wonder.

The criticism of Spelunky starts off with her mentioning the "boob jiggle" in the HD remake, rather than the bruise on her eye. This comes off as a mistake in prioritization. I can understand critique of violence against people, but this is one example of many of her hypersensitivity to any sexualization of women. I can't take her seriously because of it. As far as the damsel goes in the game, it seems to be a pretty integral part of the mechanics. I don't see what the 'solution' to this particular game would be, if there is one. Turning the damsel into an inanimate object changes the mechanics too much, and making it an non-living object (such as a gem or something) that does move seems like sterilization of an artistic choice.

She goes on about ROM hacking retro games to switch the character sprites so that the damsel is now the hero and praises it with "...can directly challenge the status quo and interrupt the established male-dominated pattern in gaming". This came right after she mentioned that giving multiple options for the damsel in Spelunky was bad because if you can just swap out the damsel for a dog, then 'something is wrong'. I can't remember which video, but she's mentioned previously that giving an option for the main hero's gender isn't good enough. How is that any different than ROM hacking and in addition, how exactly does gender swapping ROM hacks 'challenge the status quo', especially considering her disregarding male/female character choices built-in by the developer. This is her bad habit of making assertions with no explanation, proof, or citations, as well as making her arguments inconsistent cropping up again.

The suggestion about homages to games with damsels around 10:16 is particularly annoying to me. Again, she gives an example of something that happened, and then states her opinion why she think they did it without proof or even just explaining why she thinks that to be the case.

Her example of Fat Princess also doesn't make sense to me. She mostly focuses the arguments around the mechanic of making the princess fat so I don't see how that relates to gender. How is the game "one big sexist fat joke"? Again, no explanation.

So the formula is:

- find something that would offend feminists

- ignore all context that might explain it

- find a Let's Play video of the game

- use it without asking permission, or accreditation

- explain said offensive material steeped in as many biased adjectives as she can fit into a sentence

- come to a conclusion about game developers using: ???

- pass this off as "well-researched, in-depth analysis"

- $160k on Kickstarter

Moving on to Secret of Monkey Island. She specifically states at 18:32 "The joke ends up being directed at the protagonist, rather than making fun of the damsel'd woman". More consistency issues. Why is it okay to make fun of the protagonist and not okay to make jokes about the damsel? I see that as pretty damn sexist, especially when this comment directly followed her scorn on Earthworm Jim/Eversion/Castle Crashers on the same topic.

As a general note, I still think that she could've done a lot more with the money she got than this video series. She could've used it to go an interview game developers about the issue, their process, and if there's a better way to tackle the issues of women in games. She could've gone and talked to some of the women that were part of the #1reasonwhy campaign to get their take. Again, I understand that she initially asked for $6k but in my mind, if she really cared about the issue of women representation in games, she could've switched gears and did something a lot more positive.

However, she did get the conversation started. It's still possible that something great will happen, even if it's just vicariously through Anita so I guess that's something.

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Why is it okay to make fun of the protagonist and not okay to make jokes about the damsel?

Making a joke that a male would-be hero is actually bumbling isn't playing on any longstanding sexist tropes that men have had to deal with for thousands of years. Two completely different things, different historical context, etc.

On Anita's channel, she has posted a game concept that lampshades the whole damsel in distress trope. Which if I am understanding her argument is bad because it draws attention to the trope to begin with.

When did she say it was bad to draw attention to tropes...? That's sort of like the whole point of the videos, right?

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Making a joke that a male would-be hero is actually bumbling isn't playing on any longstanding sexist tropes that men have had to deal with for thousands of years. Two completely different things, different historical context, etc.

So what your saying is that since one thing is not ok to make fun of, nothing is.

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Making a joke that a male would-be hero is actually bumbling isn't playing on any longstanding sexist tropes that men have had to deal with for thousands of years. Two completely different things, different historical context, etc.

no they're exactly the same, the only difference is historical context, and the idea that one is fine and the other isn't is *ironically* INCREDIBLY SEXIST.

if one is okay because 'deal with it you're men,' and the same thing isn't okay because women are involved instead of men, that. is. SEXISM.

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So what your saying is that since one thing is not ok to make fun of, nothing is.

No...? I'm saying historical + cultural context make some things more acceptable to make fun of than other things. Saying someone looks like a monkey, for example, is much more racist and offensive if you're referring to a black person as opposed to a white person (and sadly, people are still saying garbage like that unironically of people like Obama and the Italian Prime Minister). Context matters.

no they're exactly the same, the only difference is historical context, and the idea that one is fine and the other isn't is *ironically* INCREDIBLY SEXIST.

Even djpretzel agreed (1000%) with Vig when he pointed out that women have much more of a reason to be offended by sexist depictions of their gender than men, because women have had to deal with actual real-life sexism for thousands of years.

Edited by zircon

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Making a joke that a male would-be hero is actually bumbling isn't playing on any longstanding sexist tropes that men have had to deal with for thousands of years. Two completely different things, different historical context, etc.

I see your point. I would say that context helps. The way she worded it makes it seem like all jokes about women, or at least, women damsels are inappropriate while the protagonist is open game. The actual joke needs to be taken into account, however. The joke in two of the games she mentioned there were about the damsels' looks, so I guess a similar joke about males would possibly be about penis size, or how handsome he is.

It would've been better if she had said that in this specific case, it's okay to make a joke at the hero's expense as opposed to that specific joke at the damsels' expense. But she didn't.

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Just because women have had to deal with it in real life doesn't make it any less Ok with Video Games, that it's not OK to be upset about how men are portrayed. (Which is just as wildly varying as women. Yet people only focus on a few examples and only pick out the ones that are offensive rather than commending the ones that portray them the way they supposedly WANT to be portrayed)

Saying that in itself sounds extremely sexist. And borderline apologist.

Context or No Context.

These are pieces of fiction and fantasy, NOT real life.

And there is a VERY clear distinction between reality and fantasy/fiction/video games.

Edited by BONKERS

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Even djpretzel agreed (1000%) with Vig when he pointed out that women have much more of a reason to be offended by sexist depictions of their gender than men, because women have had to deal with actual real-life sexism for thousands of years.

and it's still sexist

fighting sexism with sexism seems like the proper way so solve problems

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Arguing against societal norms in general is silly because women aren't going to be construction workers or do heavy lifting / dirty jobs, and men are less likely to work as a nanny or at a daycare center. (and quite frankly it's beyond the scope of this thread, please stay on topic)

I disagree with the notion that women have had to deal with "sexist tropes" for thousands of years. It's a modern concept.

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Arguing against societal norms in general is silly because women aren't going to be construction workers or do heavy lifting / dirty jobs, and men are less likely to work as a nanny or at a daycare center.

I disagree with the notion that women have had to deal with "sexist tropes" for thousands of years. It's a modern concept.

Gender equality, tropes and sexism are cultural; they are not a product of a particular time in history. It's not a modern concept at all.

In Ancient Egypt, women could participate in politics, own land and even initiate divorce. There are some cultures in the modern day where women can't do any of those things.

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Derrit: I guess you're also one of those people that doesn't understand why it's generally OK for an African-American to call someone of the same race the n-word, while it is generally unacceptable and offensive for a white person to do it.

You don't seem to understand the definition of sexism. To be sexist is to promote sexism, which means:

1. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.

A woman being offended at being portrayed as an object is not promoting that attitude. It's the opposite. On the other hand, if a man is portrayed as being incapable of saving a woman, that is not promoting an attitude or behavior based on traditional stereotypes. It's... the opposite. It's a play on the trope.

2. discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex, as in restricted job opportunities; especially, such discrimination directed against women.

Having a problem with sexist depictions of women is not discrimination or devaluation of women. It's the opposite. As the DEFINITION says, sexism refers to active discrimination i.e. restricting what someone can do based on their gender. There is no longstanding gender stereotype that men are incapable of saving damsels. Therefore, using that in a game is not sexist.

I disagree with the notion that women have had to deal with "sexist tropes" for thousands of years. It's a modern concept.

Women have had to deal with sexism since the beginning of the history and billions of women around the world deal with it even today. I'm not talking about tropes, I'm talking about actual real-life sexism like being killed because you were raped, or not having the right to an education, or not having the right to vote, etc

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Derrit: I guess you're also one of those people that doesn't understand why it's generally OK for an African-American to call someone of the same race the n-word, while it is generally unacceptable and offensive for a white person to do it.

No, it should not be okay. That's what they call a "double-standard". It's hypocrisy all the way around.

You can't say to someone that "race is just a social construct" but then turn around and call someone from your own "race" a racist name and then say that someone from a different "race" can't say that same word. Because "race is just a social construct and doesn't really exist".

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This thread is Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.

Yeah, and I argued that those tropes are cultural and not the result of time. Just like everything racist or sexist. Just because people started paying more attention to the tropes at a particular point in history does not invalidate the fact that the tropes stem from culture.

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There is no longstanding gender stereotype that men are incapable of saving damsels. Therefore, using that in a game is not sexist.

Gotta call bullshit on this one. There is a stereotype that men are expected to save the damsel. Whether we're talking about a princess locked in a tower, or that girl in the bar that's getting treated like shit by some guy. If you don't save her, you're less of a man/a pussy.

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No, it should not be okay. That's what they call a "double-standard". It's hypocrisy all the way around.

You can't say to someone that "race is just a social construct" but then turn around and call someone from your own "race" a racist name and then say that someone from a different "race" can't say that same word. Because "race is just a social construct and doesn't really exist".

We're getting really off-topic here, but there are tons of double standards in society and in everyday life. I can call someone (and be called) an asshole while playing Mario Party and it's not offensive - in fact, it's funny! - because of the company, and the context. Calling a cashier at a grocery store an asshole is a totally different context and has totally different meaning. There are appropriate times or situations for some language and behavior and inappropriate times for that same exact language & behavior... it's just part of being human.

Gotta call bullshit on this one. There is a stereotype that men are expected to save the damsel. Whether we're talking about a princess locked in a tower, or that girl in the bar that's getting treated like shit by some guy. If you don't save her, you're less of a man/a pussy.

This doesn't make any logical sense, Calpis. If the stereotype is "saving the damsel", the stereotype can't ALSO be "not saving the damsel". It's logically impossible. In the case of video games, the trope is that the man saves the woman. Inventing a funny situation where the woman is saving herself, but the man messes up the plan, is not itself a trope or a stereotype, and it's certainly not playing into some long-standing sexism against men that has existed for thousands of years.

Edited by zircon

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This doesn't make any logical sense, Calpis. If the stereotype is "saving the damsel", the stereotype can't ALSO be "not saving the damsel". It's logically impossible.

Why can you not have two stereotypes existing in the same universe? They're not mutually exclusive because they're describing the different roles.

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