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Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies


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Well if you think about it though, in Skyward Sword, she still isn't doing much IIRC. She pretty much gets taken for a ride by Impa who is the one protecting her. So while it's cool that Impa is female, Zelda herself isn't much of a hero.

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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

She can't just mention every single DiD instances of videogames though, there's a limit. I believe the ones she mentionned are some of the most well-known for the majority of gamers. Almost every gamer known at least what the story of those 2 series boils down to. Yes Zelda isn't as much of a culprit, like Anita said, but she still suffers from it greatly. OoT and WW are perfect examples. As soon as she revealed herself to the hero, she was basically back to the old "derp derp I can't do shit need help pl0x" bullshit formula.

As a woman, while I can still enjoy games for their gameplay and/or complexity, I'm seriously tired of those clichés that appeal to men first and foremost. Girls playing game back in the 80's and 90's (and even today, for some series/companies) was just an unexpected bonus. I kept playing because I enjoyed the gameplay, like many people, but I can't tell you how many times I got exasperated at the ending or at the shallow story/plot. Constant cockblock to my fun, I hated and still hate it.

For those who're complaining that she's been mainly mentioning/"accusing" Nintendo series: they did do a good job with the Pokemon serie in terms of gender neutrality, albeit unintentionally at first.

BTW, if I recall, Pac-Man wasn't aimed at women, it was Ms.Pac-Man. They simply slapped a big ribbon on the original sprite and thought along the line of "well that oughta get girls who go to laundromats play our game!"

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She can't just mention every single DiD instances of videogames though, there's a limit. I believe the ones she mentionned are some of the most well-known for the majority of gamers. Almost every gamer known at least what the story of those 2 series boils down to. Yes Zelda isn't as much of a culprit, like Anita said, but she still suffers from it greatly. OoT and WW are perfect examples. As soon as she revealed herself to the hero, she was basically back to the old "derp derp I can't do shit need help pl0x" bullshit formula.

With Ocarina of Time, I thought Zelda was strong throughout the game. She managed to escape the clutches of Ganondorf and remain hidden from him for seven years while link was in the Chamber of Sages. She disguised herself as Sheik and managed to help link along the way. Yes, Zelda was captured after she revealed herself, but that was at the end right before entering Ganondorf's castle. If you remember, when she was taken away in that crystal thing, it happened right in front of Link, and he was powerless to stop it. Then after beating Ganondorf, Zelda helps you escape, as well as helping you in the final battle against Ganon. I never got the vibe that Zelda was helpless, she seemed to be a strong character.

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I dont want to start anything here but I was looking at the description for Tomb Raider on steam and for some reason this description of something in the game made me think of this thread.

Croft's Crest (for all classes) - "This badge lets your enemies know you're as brave as a shivering, weeping, blood-stained 17-year-old British girl

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I dont want to start anything here but I was looking at the description for Tomb Raider on steam and for some reason this description of something in the game made me think of this thread.

Croft's Crest (for all classes) - "This badge lets your enemies know you're as brave as a shivering, weeping, blood-stained 17-year-old British girl

I picked up the new Tomb Raider today.

Absolutely awesome game.

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BTW, if I recall, Pac-Man wasn't aimed at women, it was Ms.Pac-Man. They simply slapped a big ribbon on the original sprite and thought along the line of "well that oughta get girls who go to laundromats play our game!"

Forgive me for telling you otherwise but the original Pac-Man was meant to be gender neutral in marketing but according to the creator he made it because women enjoy food (much like most guys do, hell i love food),

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/iwatani-pac-man-was-made-for-women (how true this is idk but it was an interview sooo.. idk)

It was only when they released Ms Pac-Man when they ballsed it up and put it down as "our way of thanking all those lady arcaders who have played and enjoyed Pac-Man."

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Uh... OK..? Some men can't defend themselves either. Basically your whole post there is saying "Well, this is a traditional tale, so who cares." I don't get how that is a defense of the trope. Anita never said that the game designers were evil or nefarious. She outlined her conclusion very clearly, in fact, and I don't know why people keep ignoring it. The point was this:

Women have been in a lesser position across pretty much all civilizations for thousands to tens of thousands of years. They have been reduced to property (literally), stripped of rights to get education, vote, divorce, refuse sex, etc. Most civil rights for women have only arisen in DEVELOPED countries within the last century or so, and even then, we're still fighting workplace harassment, wage gaps, rape, domestic abuse, etc. If you look to other countries around the world, you see stories of rapists walking scot-free, fathers killing daughters for 'honor', and many more atrocities.

We (society) have been fighting AGAINST the sexist attitude that women are weaker, stupider, more powerless, etc. for a long time now and progress has been really slow. Anita was correct when she said MANY people still have these views on some level. So considering the history and ingrained biases we are dealing with, and considering that video games are more and more of a cultural influence than ever (bigger than movies now), we have to think about the CONTENT in these games and how it reinforces or goes against stereotypes.

Anita pretty conclusively showed that through the history of games, the damsel-in-distress trope, which overwhelmingly shows women as being too weak to save themselves and requiring men to rescue them, was overwhelmingly common. This trope REINFORCES negative views on women even if it's on a very small level. It's another voice in the chorus of "women are weak, they need men". Even if that wasn't the intention of the game designers, that IS the view that it reinforces.

Funny, I don't recall saying anything akin to "so who cares" anywhere, but I did get the feeling you just skimmed my post... since you said the exact same thing I did right after the part you quoted. With that said, I got Anita's point just fine. My explaining part of where the "damsel" trope came from, and why it was used, was a minor history lesson for those not in the know, not a defense as you put it. In fact, I specifically said that the plot trope was thankfully being left behind more and more these days.

Now, my problem with Anita's assessment of this trope thus far, is on several fronts. She (like you just did) lines up these simple and child-level stories in some older video games, with the very dark, real world events women have been going through over the centuries in many countries; as if the two things were one and the same. She then jumps right to "women are depicted as property/possessions," despite that the female characters she showed half the time are actual love interests or friends of the hero (you know, someone they'd want to help, not go "reacquire" like a lamp). Peach/Toadstool is Mario's friend/love interest (by Super Mario World at least... not 100% sure about the earlier games). Selena is Simon Belmont's bride. Princess Prin Prin is Arthur's love interest/girlfriend. Annabelle is Billy's girlfriend. Remi is Steven's girlfriend (My Hero). Silvia is Thomas' girlfriend. Yet these games were lumped in with the "ball" analogy, despite that the reason the hero is going after the kidnapped woman, is because he cares about her and her safety... not because she's his "property." It goes right against what she's talking about, and hurts her argument in ways, because it makes it seem like she didn't really pay attention to the examples she chose.

Some of the games she used, like Wizards and Warriors, Dragon's Lair, and Star Fox Adventures (the Zelda series is a tougher call due to that fact that I don't know if Link's Zelda's friend, or just a protector), do make the woman either a generic thing to be rescued by the hero, or make the woman more of an object. So those were better choices. However, Anita says in the video that the trope itself backs up the negative views women in society have been fighting against (the "this trope is patronizing and toxic" comment), and I have trouble agreeing with such a generic statement. Here's why...

Whether Anita intended it or not, she's sweeping an awful lot of games under the carpet of her "these make women seem weak/objectified" message right now. She spent a lot of time using too broad a brush to paint her picture, using various games that weren't demeaning or toxic at all. It undermined her intentions, because they simply didn't fit her analogy. And that so much more got breathed into something as simple as a man rescuing his love interest... well, it makes me question how objective she's really being, and how objective she'll be when the heavier subjects come around.

Now, we all know the trope is a bloody pulp by now. But my other main issue with her generic statement, is that the tropes use is still valid (lazy, but valid). It's not a sexist, degrading stereotype toward women in and of itself. It's how the female is treated and portrayed before and after capture, and how the hero sees/treats her, that will make it sexist/demeaning/objectifying, or not. The villain can have various reasons for taking the woman (wanting her as a bride, getting knowledge she has, ransom, getting back at the hero for some reason, etc.), and the hero can have numerous reasons for rescuing her (she's his wife/daughter/lover, he was charged with ensuring her safety, he was called upon to rescue her without knowing her, etc.). To say it's all objectifying is way too simplistic and short sighted. And I simply don't agree that the simple act of a woman being captured in a video game, and unable/unwilling to fight back or escape, is degrading, or somehow bolsters the idea that women are weak in any tangible, realistic way. Only the weakest of minds would watch Zelda get kidnapped and say, "See? I told you women are weak," or use it as an stepping stone to rant about how supposedly helpless and needy women are. The rest of us know that the woman being kidnapped in that individual game is a single, fake woman... not a representation of all real women.

So, those are my thoughts on it. I don't expect anyone to agree with anything I said, and I fully expect what I wrote to be picked apart with less than polite comments slung at me for one reason or another. But I think Anita focused a bit too much on the wrong areas to back up her "property" argument in this video, while vilifying a concept that, at its core, is only as sexist/objectifying as the writer, or the viewer's own biases, make it. I know this is only her first video, and many more are to come (at some point). But it's a rocky start for how she's bolstering her opinion, in my opinion.

Oh, and regarding my "some women really are defenseless" comment that seemed to set zircon off, the games didn't make this type of woman up. We've all known a girl or woman that always had to have someone fix her problems for her because she couldn't, or go along with her to keep an eye on her because she tended to get herself into bad spots. That the games Anita spoke of only focused on that kind of woman for their simplistic fairy tale-like stories is unfortunate. But again, it's a simple tale for simple games that chose to focus on the "rescue your love/the woman" as the only linear plot line. That's not a defense by me, it's just why it was used; for simplicity's sake. It's not proclaiming that real women are like the woman in the game, telling you to treat women like they're helpless, or backing up how other countries see women as lesser individuals. So slamming the real world history of women (be it in America, or other countries) into the game's painfully basic story just comes across as over analyzing what's being presented, and allowing personal biases/stances/agendas to color the story in unintended ways (on either side of the issue).

Now just give me a second to put on my fire retardant suit, aaaaaaand...

Edited by The Coop
Touch of clean up.
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I don't think the relation between the character and the DiD really matters. The objectification does not come from the fact that the woman happens to be the protagonists wife/girlfriend, but from the fact that you could simply replace them with a valuable object in terms of plot significance, a.k.a. a MacGuffin.

In Super Mario Bros, Mario could just as well be trying to retrieve his golden wrench or something, and the game wouldn't change at all. For the purposes of the game and the protagonists primary motivator, Princess Toadstool very much *is* treated as Mario's property which was stolen away from him.

I also don't think that whatever justification the writers come up with for the villains/protagonists motivations matters: these aren't real characters, and the writers have absolute creative control, so they can write them in any way they want. The fact that they choose to go for a damsel in distress-type plot in the first place should really say enough.

As for Zelda, in a lot of games she is far more nuanced and interesting than, say, Princess Peach. The problem there is that in spite of all her competence and powers, she almost always has to be saved anyway.

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In Super Mario Bros, Mario could just as well be trying to retrieve his golden wrench or something, and the game wouldn't change at all. For the purposes of the game and the protagonists primary motivator, Princess Toadstool very much *is* treated as Mario's property which was stolen away from him.

Mario could also be a golden wrench and the game wouldn't change at all. The games have absolutely no plot or characterization so what you're saying is a conjecture, not a fact. As you say, the DiD is just an excuse for the gameplay, which was the only thing that mattered about Super Mario Bros back when it was first released.

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I don't think the relation between the character and the DiD really matters. The objectification does not come from the fact that the woman happens to be the protagonists wife/girlfriend, but from the fact that you could simply replace them with a valuable object in terms of plot significance, a.k.a. a MacGuffin.

I disagree. What's more valuable on a personal level than a friend/loved one being taken away and put in danger? No lamp, wrench, or inanimate object is going to have that much importance; to give as much drive for the hero (player) to take action. It may be a simplistic plot device, but it's also a powerful one that acts on our basic instincts of wanting to keep those we care about safe.

I also don't think that whatever justification the writers come up with for the villains/protagonists motivations matters: these aren't real characters, and the writers have absolute creative control, so they can write them in any way they want. The fact that they choose to go for a damsel in distress-type plot in the first place should really say enough.

And what is the "enough" being said to you? Outside of potentially not having enough RAM (mostly for older games) or just being too lazy to make something more in-depth, I mean.

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Mario could also be a golden wrench and the game wouldn't change at all. The games have absolutely no plot or characterization so what you're saying is a conjecture, not a fact. As you say, the DiD is just an excuse for the gameplay, which was the only thing that mattered about Super Mario Bros back when it was first released.

Well, no... either you misunderstand my point or we have a very different understanding on the capabilities of wrenches. Mario still actually does things like running, jumping, throwing fireballs etc. Princess Toadstool only exists as a motivator for Mario to defeat Bowser, she doesn't actually do anything outside of that, that's why she's interchangeable with any kind of inanimate object that would be important to Mario, such as a golden wrench (since he's a plumber). Hence, objectification.

I disagree. What's more valuable on a personal level than a friend/loved one being taken away and put in danger? No lamp, wrench, or inanimate object is going to have that much importance; to give as much drive for the hero (player) to take action. It may be a simplistic plot device, but it's also a powerful one that acts on our basic instincts of wanting to keep those we care about safe.

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.

Edited by Tensei
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What are people's opinions on a DiD saved by a female protagonist? In Mirror's Edge, Faith's sister Kate is (wrongly) arrested by the police and Faith spends over half of the game trying to save her, eventually

saving her from falling off of a skyscraper after destroying a helicopter that the villain was flying.

Does this scenario offend on the same level? Kate is obviously the DiD, but now it is her sister who is saving her. How do people feel about this?

I personally found Mirror's Edge to be a very refreshing experience on many fronts. A non-combat oriented action game with a powerful, Asian, female protagonist who is not over-sexualized. Bright, clean, colorful design, simple controls, unique soundtrack, great premise. Can you tell that I'm on the edge of my seat for Mirror's Edge 2? :P

Edited by Cerrax
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I personally found Mirror's Edge to be a very refreshing experience on many fronts. A non-combat oriented action game with a powerful, Asian, female protagonist who is not over-sexualized.

Gotta admit, I never played the game and probably never will - I'm not a huge platformer - but I was still extremely thrilled to see the game getting produced and published for those very reasons. It was nice to see.

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With Ocarina of Time, I thought Zelda was strong throughout the game. She managed to escape the clutches of Ganondorf and remain hidden from him for seven years while link was in the Chamber of Sages. She disguised herself as Sheik and managed to help link along the way. Yes, Zelda was captured after she revealed herself, but that was at the end right before entering Ganondorf's castle. If you remember, when she was taken away in that crystal thing, it happened right in front of Link, and he was powerless to stop it. Then after beating Ganondorf, Zelda helps you escape, as well as helping you in the final battle against Ganon. I never got the vibe that Zelda was helpless, she seemed to be a strong character.

That's EXACTLY my problem though. She's able to escape Ganon for 7 friggin' years, and all of a sudden she goes "Ohai I'm Zelda btw" which ends up getting her captured. She has the intelligence (and Impa's) to stay safe for this long. Why the hell did the Nintendo team who worked on this decided to make her get captured. It's frustrating as all f**ks.

And before any of you try to justify why, I just have to say this: they could've easily changed the story so she wouldn't have been caught yet could've been there to help you during the final battle.

Edited by Vilecat
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What are people's opinions on a DiD saved by a female protagonist? In Mirror's Edge, Faith's sister Kate is (wrongly) arrested by the police and Faith spends over half of the game trying to save her, eventually

saving her from falling off of a skyscraper after destroying a helicopter that the villain was flying.

Does this scenario offend on the same level? Kate is obviously the DiD, but now it is her sister who is saving her. How do people feel about this?

I personally found Mirror's Edge to be a very refreshing experience on many fronts. A non-combat oriented action game with a powerful, Asian, female protagonist who is not over-sexualized. Bright, clean, colorful design, simple controls, unique soundtrack, great premise. Can you tell that I'm on the edge of my seat for Mirror's Edge 2? :P

Mirrors Edge is pretty kickass, beautiful, and overall a great thing... right up until the stupid server room in the final level, where I spent 20 minutes running around trying to figure out what I was supposed to do and thus breaking the pacing of the game. Doesn't help that the ending cutscene just doesn't work. The editing, the music (timing/intro/something didn't fit the mood of the scene), the action, the apparent disappearance of the PK security there a minute earlier... Kate being in distress isn't communicated particularly well, either.

But yeah, she fits the bill. Kate doesn't really do anything, and Faith is motivated by saving her. Faith is an example of a female protagonist done right, so it's not the same as the video's example of two males using her as the ball in a game.

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Also, the ball analogy still applies to so many of these games on a mechanical level. We're not playing because character x loves character y. We're playing because it's fun to play. It's fun to explore the story, or fun to run around in the game world, or fun to dominate the enemies, or whatever. It's for fun. _We_ are not motivated by caring (unless we've grown to care for those characters by the time they're kidnapped/cursed/whatevered).

Often, it's not about saving the damsel anyway, it's about beating the bad guy. It's not even about the bad guy either, the bad guy can be the environment, or female, or a machine, or a corporation, or evil itself. As such, it's equally rewarding to beat a game and get the reward smooch as it is to get a comedy ending. We're not playing for a happily ever after, we're playing for any "after". Preferably the most difficult one in the game, in which case we want the game to recognize that we beat it.

Anyone ever wanted to play a game because someone stole the protagonist's bananas?

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That's EXACTLY my problem though. She's able to escape Ganon for 7 friggin' years, and all of a sudden she goes "Ohai I'm Zelda btw" which ends up getting her captured. She has the intelligence (and Impa's) to stay safe for this long. Why the hell did the Nintendo team who worked on this decided to make her get captured. It's frustrating as all f**ks.

And before any of you try to justify why, I just have to say this: they could've easily changed the story so she wouldn't have been caught yet could've been there to help you during the final battle.

This is true, they could have easily changed the story to avoid her capture. I agree it's stupid that she was captured right after her reveal. I see your point that it's even more frustrating because up until that point, Zelda was strong. Kind like a tease for female gamers, here's a strong women, but oh wait, just kidding.

Still, Link would have gone after Ganon anyway had Zelda not been kidnapped. The purpose all along was to defeat Ganon, Zelda's kidnapping was just added incentive. Plus, Ganon really only took her for the Triforce of Wisdom. Maybe I'm grasping at straws here...

When you think about it, why didn't Ganon take both of them and just win? Link clearly couldn't stop Zelda from being taken, why not taken him as well? Doesn't really make sense. I think an interesting twist would have been to have Zelda rescue Link. So instead Ganon grabs Link, and have Zelda storm the castle. I'd imagine that would have been more entertaining for Ganon.

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To say it's all objectifying is way too simplistic and short sighted. And I simply don't agree that the simple act of a woman being captured in a video game, and unable/unwilling to fight back or escape, is degrading, or somehow bolsters the idea that women are weak in any tangible, realistic way.

Pretty much this. To have a character that the player cares about kidnapped by the villain is a cheap emotional trick that isn't particularly good writing -- but that's true regardless of the gender of the kidnapper, kidnapee, and rescuer.

I feel like a lot of people complaining about this sort of thing want writers to go out of their way to make things gender neutral. When is it acceptable to just tell a story about a guy rescuing a girl he cares about? Is it ever okay, or is it always sexist? Does everything anyone ever writes always have to be an allegory for human society and civilization as a whole, or can it just be a story about individual, fictional characters?

To me, it's important to look at groups of characters as opposed to individual characters. If every female in a Zelda game where helpless and always had to be rescued, then you'd have a point in calling Zelda sexist. But that's not the case -- taking Skyward Sword as an example, Impa is quite badass, there are female students in the Knight Academy in Skyloft, one of the three dragons is female, etc. Though Zelda as an individual might be seen as physically unable to defend herself and in need of protecting, females as a group certainly are not. The fact that Zelda isn't personally a fighter doesn't somehow imply that all women are weak and need to keep men around to protect them any more than the existence of, say, Groose implies that all men are pompous, ignorant jackasses who need to be taken down a peg or five.

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Pretty much this. To have a character that the player cares about kidnapped by the villain is a cheap emotional trick that isn't particularly good writing -- but that's true regardless of the gender of the kidnapper, kidnapee, and rescuer.

I feel like a lot of people complaining about this sort of thing want writers to go out of their way to make things gender neutral. When is it acceptable to just tell a story about a guy rescuing a girl he cares about? Is it ever okay, or is it always sexist? Does everything anyone ever writes always have to be an allegory for human society and civilization as a whole, or can it just be a story about individual, fictional characters?

To me, it's important to look at groups of characters as opposed to individual characters. If every female in a Zelda game where helpless and always had to be rescued, then you'd have a point in calling Zelda sexist. But that's not the case -- taking Skyward Sword as an example, Impa is quite badass, there are female students in the Knight Academy in Skyloft, one of the three dragons is female, etc. Though Zelda as an individual might be seen as physically unable to defend herself and in need of protecting, females as a group certainly are not. The fact that Zelda isn't personally a fighter doesn't somehow imply that all women are weak and need to keep men around to protect them any more than the existence of, say, Groose implies that all men are pompous, ignorant jackasses who need to be taken down a peg or five.

Some people who strongly desire to see reform with their own ideals hide behind the mask of a good cause.

I notice that a lot when it comes to sexism. There are "feminist" women and even men who will lose their shit at the sight of a woman wearing revealing clothing (which she wears by choice), damsels in distress, how big Lara Croft's breasts are etc.

Half of the time, these angry people who say they're "feminist" can't provide sound reasoning as to why the things I mentioned are sexist and more importantly exactly why they should be done away with. It basically boils down to "I don't like those things and may even possibly be jealous of how good that fictional woman looks in that video game" So if they scream "sexist" at it, they figure they'll get their way. One of my instructors at the college writes a lot about sexism in the game industry. As I recall, when I met her, she was telling me about how she wrote this article about how she was sorta pissed off that Bioware had this beauty contest where you could vote for the best looking female Mass Effect character. All I could think was...why are YOU, a flesh and blood, real woman, pissed off about a beauty contest for women who don't even exist?

I always find it interesting how heterosexual women who identify as feminist will complain relentlessly about the portrayal of a woman's body in a video game and say that muscled up men are a "male power fantasy", yet these same women have no problem salivating over their favorite shirtless male actors like Brad Pitt; Men who are basically the prototype of this same male power fantasy feminists say is a bad thing.

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Some people who strongly desire to see reform with their own ideals hide behind the mask of a good cause.

I notice that a lot when it comes to sexism. There are "feminist" women and even men who will lose their shit at the sight of a woman wearing revealing clothing (which she wears by choice), damsels in distress, how big Lara Croft's breasts are etc.

Half of the time, these angry people who say they're "feminist" can't provide sound reasoning as to why the things I mentioned are sexist and more importantly exactly why they should be done away with. It basically boils down to "I don't like those things and may even possibly be jealous of how good that fictional woman looks in that video game" So if they scream "sexist" at it, they figure they'll get their way. One of my instructors at the college writes a lot about sexism in the game industry. As I recall, when I met her, she was telling me about how she wrote this article about how she was sorta pissed off that Bioware had this beauty contest where you could vote for the best looking female Mass Effect character. All I could think was...why are YOU, a flesh and blood, real woman, pissed off about a beauty contest for women who don't even exist?

I always find it interesting how heterosexual women who identify as feminist will complain relentlessly about the portrayal of a woman's body in a video game and say that muscled up men are a "male power fantasy", yet these same women have no problem salivating over their favorite shirtless male actors like Brad Pitt; Men who are basically the prototype of this same male power fantasy feminists say is a bad thing.

Your whole post is a giant straw man.

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