Response to Tobold’s & Co. Fantasies

This is in response to Tobold’s article.

In my efforts to limit the title of this article, I short-handed it. It’s meaning is to include all those who agree with Tobold’s stance. It is *not* my intention to lump all into one group, but merely to respond to a collective idea about sexism, women, and fantasy to those who stand with Tobold on the points I will discuss below. There’s no need for anyone to feel unduly offended if your stance is different, changing, or changed; it will only mean that this isn’t directed at you and you can safely look over your shoulder at those to whom this does apply to.

But to be sure, look at the mirror as well after you look over your shoulder and confirm that this indeed does not apply to you.

A Critical Look at Males

What I find somewhat curious about that is that it is always nearly exclusively the depiction of women which is criticized. Judging from the photos one sees from game conventions, I am pretty certain that male players don’t exactly look like the muscular hunks they are depicted as in the game either. Isn’t that sexualized fantasy too?

In a word, no.

Tobold, you would have done better to cite your own examples of what you consider sexualized males and then explain to us, your readers, what makes those images sexualized. You would then need to compare those explanations to the sexualized images of women along with explanations for those. Had you done this, I believe you would not have asked this question. I believe you would have arrived at entirely different conclusions or else affirmed your ignorance on the subject by ignoring the testimony of those who point these things out as offensive to their humanity. I’m not suggesting you’re ignorant–quite the opposite. I’m suggesting that you’ve been blogging long enough to know better, long enough to find answers to this. This isn’t a difficult or profound question. The answer is, in fact, in the question you ask because in the act of asking is an admission that you’ve never heard of anyone criticize male fantasy depictions as sexualized as much as you’ve heard the opposite. And there it is.

Guys, myself included, defend our sexism and this fantasy aspect especially. It’s a reaction to accusations that would tarnish our self-image as stand-up guys who believe in equality, in respecting women. It’s a reaction to accusations that condemn our modes of operation in our day to day lives and this reaction is especially designed to defend in such a way as to overwhelm reason, contemplation, and deep reflection of the real picture …the inner picture. That picture is threatening.  I won’t speak for every man, I can’t. But this is my personal experience with these challenges and I have found that in my circle of brothers this experience is very common. We have long defended our fantasies and our attitude was “how dare anyone object to this”. I say to all men: if you haven’t asked these questions of yourself, haven’t truly examined your own behavior, on what ground do you stand questioning the motives of those who warn us (*) that these sexualized female images are offensive and damaging to them?

On to the first question.

What does it mean to sexualize imagery?

A quick search of the dictionary yielded the following:

Sexualization is the pernicious application of sexuality or sexual perceptions to an individual or class.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines sexualization as occurring under one or more of these fourconditions:

“a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal orsexual behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;

  • “a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • “a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • “sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.”

Fantasy art, including that in video games, is no different and in fact employs this notoriously against women.  It is to objectify, to make an object of sexual pleasure and obscure any qualities of the object/person which give it character. It is to value a person or a thing for it’s sexual promise. It’s important to recognize that (in the western civilizations), our beliefs, actions, and values are derived from a culture that values male dominance and female subservience. The dangers of sexualization should be obvious if one starts from this fact. We are talking about what is the case, not what we want to be the case.

One of the dangers is that men are taught to perceive women in certain ways and women are taught to accept the ways of men.  This is no different in fantasy settings. Many, though not all, guys seem to believe that the fantasy of a sexualized female benefits everyone and, moreover, to tell those who object to suck it up because that’s The Way It Is, and us men are entitled to our fantasies. In defending the status quo, some even take the stance that no one wants to play a “fat” or “ugly” or “flat chested” toon, that even women want sexy avatars. They assume in these beliefs that they get to define what is sexy; that it’s impossible to be round and sexy, sexy without make-up; that “pretty” is a singular thing  (bit pretentious isn’t it?), or that sexy is valuable at all (we never question this). This assumption, in other words, is women *want* be sexualized, that they would not likely have it any other way because Lara Croft looks good to everyone. Therefore, more Lara Crofts and no female dwarfs. It’s arrogant to believe this sort of thing to say the least.

The second question: what does a sexualized female/male look like?

This is culturally informed, but in the west this can best be described as enlargement of the breasts and hips, exposed skin, lots of make up on the face, clothing that accentuates said body parts (heels which emphasize the buttocks, shirts which expose the cleavage and midriff, and pants which emphasize tension in the crotch, if there are pants at all), and so forth.

I’m not sure I’ve seen sexualized images of males (*), because males in fantasy are typically characterized by their power, not their sexual promise. If anyone knows of any such images, I’m more than willing to examine them critically with the community. I don’t have any experience with them.

I don’t believe there exists sexualized males in video games for the most part, though I’ve seen at least one image where I felt sure the guy was being sold as a sex object.  However, I couldn’t get past the allusions to power and conquest to see the sexualization in terms other than power.

The final question: why are the depictions of women exclusively criticized?

Why, indeed. WHY? What is it about the men’s depictions that escapes criticism? Afterall, most of those complaints come from women – why don’t men complain about their depictions? Could it be that men believe that there’s nothing wrong with them (male and female imagery)? That there’s something more wrong with female depictions? That the depictions confer different qualities on each sex, where the male depiction embodies character value and the female doesn’t?

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE THE REASON.

Here’s a place we can begin to look for answers. Who is the target audience of sexualized female fantasy? And of males? One of the commenters pointed out the answer very plainly and simply: Men.

Though I’ll grant you that we ought to criticize the power motifs of male fantasy art. That does deserve much more scrutiny and criticism, because it is precisely this imagery which makes us feel entitled to sexualized female art.

On the Link Between Fantasy and Real World

“If there is no link between the player and the avatar, then how can the look of the avatar be construed as being discrimination?

Of course hunting demons in stiletto heels isn’t realistic, and a chainmal bikini has obvious flaws as a piece of armor. But while I am hurling fireballs at a dragon, should I really be worried about how realistic anything in these games is?”

If the first question were predicated on any indication that this was not the case. I’ll say it more plainly: there’s a link between the player and the avatar. You’ve written about it on countless occassions, Tobold:  Here (end of second paragraph), here (all of it is grotesquely neutral on sexism and supportive of racism; it’s clear where you stand despite your efforts to keep the issues at bay) are just two places. You acknowledge in each of these pieces that there *is* a relationship there. What’s the reason you’re not so sure now? Granted I’ve seen you waffle on this in almost every article where you’re even remotely challenged to relate to an important issue. You avoid disclosing your personal experience with these issues and choose instead to intellectualize every single topic. It’s convenient and I know what that’s like. I’ve been guilty of it. That intellectualization is a way to insulate ourselves from criticism, to remain neutral, to avoid getting involved in the real details, and a way to blanketly dismiss the experiences of others. It’s hurtful to those we offend and harmful to ourselves.

Here’s a very good quote from another male on how these fantasies have very real consequences in the real world:

“Skin flicks and porn reading matter market women as comodities, denying physical uniqueness; women are presented as ‘tits and ass’ with bulging breasts and painted on smiles. This caricature of the female body and it’s reduction to a few sexual essentials is presented undisguised in the ‘hard-core’ material and covered up with sophisticated packaging in Playboy, Penthouse, and ‘soft-core’  porn films like Emmanuel. Whether explicit or implied the underlying message is the same: women are to be treated by the consumer (the male reader) as pieces of ass.”

The author is Michael Beztold from an article titled ” How Pornography Shackles Men and Oppresses Women”. I believe this message is equally applicable to games, art, and any other form of media. Yes, fantasy art can be harmful and it has already done terrible damage to many. The truth is that art needs a context, that it’s not some concept sprung whole from an artists mind uninformed by culture. Some artists use their talent to critique sexualization in productive ways. Other artists see their right to creative freedom as supreme to another persons right to feel human and to not have their humanity caricatured and presented in ways that decrease their value in society. Fantasy art of women is notorious for reducing them down to “a few sexual essentials” in order to mold them into a male ideal of the female body.

Now show me where this is done routinely, systematically, and popularly towards men.

On the Projection of Cultural Values

Tobold says:

“Projecting those real-world issues onto the virtual world isn’t exactly helpful there. It ends up criticizing people for the fantasies they have, and that is an extreme form of attempted mind control. You can’t punish people for their dreams and fantasies not being politically correct.”

You’re citing something which doesn’t mean what you want it to believe. What you’re supposing is that artists who indulge in the sexualization of females in their art *aren’t* projecting their real world values into that work. By your words, it’s the artists who are exercising mind control, because they’re projecting this imagery on to the poor fellas and assaulting them with fantasies of sexy women.

No?  That’s not what you meant to convey?

How about this: are you saying that consumers of that art shouldn’t use their own values to interpret meaning, shouldn’t use their own eyes and feelings to criticize the piece both on it’s merits and it’s faults?

No?

What are you saying?

If I, as a man, have fantasies of women in which I objectify them, reduce them to a few convenient body parts for my own pleasure THEN I SHOULD BE RIGHTLY CRITICIZED FOR MY SEXISM AND SEXUALIZATION OF HUMAN BEINGS. Because that’s what it is and it’s not ok to see anyone as subhuman, less valuable, and to reduce human beings to mere pieces of sexual pleasure. And men don’t want to be challenged on that, I get it. I’ve been there. That doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t pardon any man of his responsibility in combating this ugly, damaging aspect of our culture. That includes gamer culture, where the front lines are currently being drawn. Because you see, it’s *not* just a game. It’s a simulation. And know how powerful simulations are? Let me illustrate it for you.

We use them in our military to train pilots, in NASA to train astronauts, in auto factories to create safety standards, in Physics to understand our place in the world …it would be easier to name the places in which a simulation have no direct impact on human thinking, interaction, and understanding. This is the power of video games. And if we fail here by denying that these fantasies produce real phenomena in our lives, change our understanding of people, and alter our view of humanity, then we will have gained nothing and lost everything in the name “fun”.

EDITS: On the suggestion of my best friend, I added links for emphasis and cited an author, Spinks, as her comments are what inspired Tobold’s post. Also, corrections. Because I’m human. Editorial additions can be found wherever there’s a (*). I also changed the colors to make the text more readable.

Comments

  1. says

    Hmmmmm. I feel challenged to respond politely, although I’m not sure I can do it. Not directed towards your post, of course. It’s an extremely good response, and thank you for writing it.
     
    I stopped reading Tobold months ago because I find his powers of logic to be extremely poor even though he tries to write with a tone of logical superiority. I wish I were more surprised to see the exact lack of examination that I found so frustrating in writing about game mechanics carried over to writing about oversexualized female characters.
     
    The bit about men being objectified by the muscle man stereotype reminded me a lot of this comic, which you may have already seen before: http://chzdatingfails.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/dating-fails-not-the-same-thing-superheroes-body-image.png
     
     

    • Doone says

      Thanks for the reply, Liore and I’m glad you found the post up to par. It’s difficult as hell for me to write on issues for which I’m not, nor can be, the spokesperson. My foremost fear is that I’ll say something which mischaracterizes or misrepresents those people or causes I’m striving to support. So it’s always comforting to hear I didn’t fuck that up.
       
      I stopped subscribing to Tobold close to a year ago because, like you, I find ALL of his articles somewhat presumptuous and without substance. I still read some articles, if only so that I can keep an open mind and even one day find that he’s decided to be more substantive.
       
      And yeah, seen that comic and it’s spot on. I don’t get what’s so hard to understand that experiences vary and that they call carry some validity. But that validity is dependent on positive interactions.

      • says

         @Doone Though I’m not really sure I “get” that comic.
         
        What’s supposed to make me feel uncomfortable about that Batman depiction? That he’s looking less buff and more lithe now? Whoop-de-doo, big deal. If people really feel weird about that, I honestly can only tell them to get over it.
         
        But maybe the comic is just a fun jab?

        • Doone says

          There is a point being made in the comic. It’s ok if you don’t get it. Affected and conscious audiences already do. Maybe one day you will as well. It’s unfortunately not something to be explained to someone as that evades the point. 
           
          Self awareness is the lesson.

  2. says

    I realize that my post showed my tendency to be concise to the point of easily being misunderstood as snarky, especially to people I haven’t talked to before. I want to apologize for that, and will gladly accept apologies for your patronizing tone in return.
     
    My question still stands, though, and even though you said it’s unexplainable, I’ll at least document my train of though. Feel free to answer or leave them standing.
     
    Is my reaction to the comic supposed to be that I, as a male, should Identify with the male character and also feel uneasy at the depiction of this “different batman”? And what if I don’t, because it’s just exchanging one stereotype for another? Is that good, because I’m at least not in the “eww gay!” camp, or is it bad, because I’m not empathic enough to… something?
     
    Or is that not the intended reaction? Because in that case, the take-home message would be “the guy in the comic should get over it”. Or maybe, a bit nicer: “What is the guy’s problem? Oh well, he obviously has one with the depiction, and I can be sympathetic for him, even though I don’t see any real reason myself.”

      • Maligma says

        Your comment actually came across as flat out dismissive in my opinion – though I will say that since you didn’t even mean to be “snarky”, I’m willing to understand that this wasn’t intentional.
         
        Now to your question, any answer you could begin to find is in the commentary of the article (not in one link from the comments section). Anything beyond that lies in your personal convictions.
         
        It’s what it is so figure it out.

        • says

          Oh, believe me, I tried. I seem to always land straight between the fronts of this eternal battle. I cringe at the disparaging comments along the lines of “nobody wants to play ugly girls” (meaning everything outside of booth babe style) and “screw those gay elves”. (Especially since I myself typically choose the “buff” female models, or the “oh-so-gay” lithe male elves.)
          But I almost cringe as much (not quite as much, because the other side at least seems well-read and articulate) at what I perceive as throwing out the baby with the bathwater, when suddenly sexual depictions are evil per se, because they are some scheme to manipulate all men into degrading all women, all the time. It’s like I want to agree with the premises, but I just can’t accept the extents to which this position goes.
          Typically, I just scurry away and wait until the waves haves subsided again. Sometimes though, I peek out of my hiding place, and typically, I regret it afterwards.
           
          “People are so butts about gender sometimes.”

    • Doone says

      Thanks for the clarification. I apologize, likewise, if my response was too mystical. I’m not confident I can adequately explain it, but I’ll try.
       
      The comic is to demonstrate really a singular thing: that males and females are portrayed differently in fantasy art. The reader should understand from the comic that Batman is typically drawn with conscious poses that convey value and personal characteristics that make him a sympathetic character. Females rarely get this sort of personal attention. Instead, they are conveyed as the comic shows: without purpose, point, practicality, or value. The poses are just silly and do not convey “heroism” in anyway. This is the singular thing the comic is illustrating.
       
      It’s not designed to make you feel uncomfortable. It’s designed to illustrate the difference between conveying characters with values and those without as pertains to sexualization.

      • says

        Come to think of it, maybe my problem then is that I never considered Batman a “deep” character. I always saw him as a rich, muscled hunk who beats up outlaws and talks every other issue about his one defining character trait: that his parents were killed by a thief, and now he wants to fight them all. Yes, I never read much Batman, so this is what little I scrounged together when I was younger.
         
        I do agree though that “Wonderwoman” and what all the others may be named are pretty silly copycats. More power to true badass comic heroines! Even though I might never read them, just like their male counterparts.

        • Doone says

          heh, I hadn’t thought that maybe you were examining Batman too closely :) But yeah, forest for the trees bro ;) I hope I didn’t fuck up the explanation too bad and that you can see what is the image is actually critiquing. I appreciate your comments and feedback, nonetheless. You’re always welcome to come and debate any thing you disagree with in articles here.

  3. BernardP says

    I am comfortable with the “different Batman” and have always endorsed a view of the video game market which mirrors other art forms such as films, novels, fine art etc, whereby men and women are depicted according to the vision of their creators. Some depictions are ugly mirrors to our own modern society and I have no doubt that there is a male hetero bias in video games, but I believe things are slowly changing.
     
    Regarding  your comments on fantasies, I think this is a complicated area which cannot be addressed in this forum. Read some of the analyses of the Fifty Shades of Gray novel. Most of the feminist discussions I have seen emphasise the freedom of the er0tic imagination to be submissive or dominating.

    • Doone says

       @BernardP There may not be a perfect or even structured formula currently for discussing this topic on this video game commentary site …but understand that this *must* be discussed in this forum and all others. It isn’t an issue to be separated from the whole debate and it needs to be discussed in all circles where these problems arise. 
       
      I have never, and will never, claim that my point of view is all that’s important. But it’s one point of view worth sharing in order to not only contribute to the discussion and generate more discussion, but to help in what tiny ways I can progress the conversation.
       
      On your comment of Fifty Shades of Gray: nothing in this post suggests de-emphasizing the erotic imagination. If anything, I’m questioning the motivations, the desired audience, it’s appropriateness within that audience, and how this particular issue is related directly to sexism …not eroticism. That would be a different discussion.

      • BernardP says

        Doone,
         
        Apologies – my intention was not to stifle debate. I agree that we should continue to discuss the portrayal of men and women in video games, as in all art.
         
        My second paragraph attempted to address the point you were raising about fantasies:
         
        “it’s not ok to see anyone as subhuman, less valuable, and to reduce human beings to mere pieces of s3xual pleasure”
         
        Isn’t the reduction of human beings to pieces of s3xual pleasure the exact definition of an er0tic fantasy?
         
        Are we entitled to freedom of the imagination to indulge in these fantasies? You suggest not, but the articles regarding 50 Shades suggest otherwise.
         
        Is it wrong for the fantasies to portrayed in art for us to explore and critique?
         
        Or do we expect video games to represent the world that should be rather than the one that exists around us and in our dreams?

        • Doone says

           @BernardP Eroticism, by definition, propose any of the things you’re assuming. The exact definition of erotic fantasy is to arouse sexually — which is not part nor parcel of objectifying. In our culture, yes this objectification is how we espouse “proper” eroticism. But eroticism itself does not automatically mean “objectify”. 
           
          No, that’s not the “exact definition of erotic fantasy.” Eroticism, *does not* mean reducing human beings to “pieces of sexual pleasure”, no, though some individual may have such fantasies.
           
          You’re seeing the term this way because there are assumptions you’re making –and it’s those assumptions which are being challenged.  When I’m being erotic with my wife, it doesn’t involve reducing her to a piece of sexual pleasure. Not even remotely. It’s about sensuality and stimulation, which can be explored in MANY forms. So no, I think your assumptions are questionable. Feel free to layout your understanding of what it is, what it means, and your experience with it.
           
          Freedom of imagination isn’t something I’d take from anyone. We all have our choices to make. And that choice in regards to fantasy isn’t a matter of “if theres no T&A, then it’s not fantasy.”  The only topic at hand is sexualization, not to be confused or conflated with sex, eroticism, and sexy. 
           
          Finally, video games *already* represent the world that’s around us. Few games succeed at proposing new ways to view our world. Rather, most games just change the environment, but present the exact same structures, conditions, and values.  Games would be enhanced if they dared offered variety. Most simply don’t. They portray things as they already are, regardless of the fictional settings they wrap them in.
           
          Thanks for keeping the discussion constructive and meaningful. 

        • BernardP says

          I believe there are areas where we disagree, notably in the area of fantasies (er0tic/s3xual or otherwise).
           
          However if you are fundamentally opposed to censorship and would like to see more variety in video games that ‘propose new ways to view our world’, then I wholeheartedly endorse your view.

    • Doone says

      I miss Righteous Orbs so much …would have an interwebz party if they every came back online.

      • says

         @Doone  Agree! Tamarind wrote very well, and was always entertaining, and sometimes sneakily educational while being so. (If you see being introduced to new POVs as being educational, that is. XD)

  4. says

    I did /facepalm a bit when reading Tobold’s post.
     
    That said, some of the points you bring up are just silly. For example: pornography is a masturbatory aid. So when you write/quote things saying “pornography reduces the female body to a few sexual essentials” I cannot help but say <b>that’s the point</b>. I suppose pornography is big enough to encompass those just looking for foreplay too, but for the most part, it’s about (quickly) getting you to orgasm. As much as every human being should be treated and celebrated as one, that does not really get one’s rocks off, so to speak.
     
    Your final paragraphs are regrettable, and I am not sure whether you realize it or not. By making the argument that games have real-world impact to the degree you imply, you admit that Modern Warfare 2 and WoW were (partly) responsible for the massacre in Norway. You simultaneously concede that games are NOT art, and that their content should be more regulated and controlled. You would throw gaming under the bus, a bus which likely has <a href=”http://media.mmgcommunity.topscms.com/images/15/96/308c96334d81a4e3a06bfb5d778a.jpg”>an ad like this</a> plastered all over the side.
     
    I support the cause, though, if not exactly in the same manner as you do.

    • Doone says

      Every word of my last paragraph is true, whether anyone wants to accept that or not. Again, show me the situations in which it is not true and then we’ll actually be having a discussion. Otherwise you’ve given me no reason to doubt it since you have cited no examples to the contrary.
       
      Games/movies/art play their role in reinforcing, fostering, and teaching both good and bad ideas.  This is hardly a divine revelation. I can understand your stake in denying that: you don’t want your nice hobbies associated with the bad, only with the good. But that’s just not the way it is. 
       
      The individual(s) who committed murder are responsible for it. That is all. Whether the media in their lives had any impact on their thinking is completely up for discussion and ought to be discussed …carefully. But it’s counter-productive to deny it just because we have a personal stake in it.
       
      You don’t understand the things you’re saying or implying, Azuriel. That much is clear. The response you give to my citation of the quote on the impacts of pornography *are the point*. But you have completely managed to talk past it. Because you don’t understand the topic and are possibly unwilling to. You must go figure this out before you comment on this matter again.
       
      You are always welcome to give *opinions* on video games and share your thoughts, but you’re not at liberty to say what you want on issues that have real impact on people’s lives while ignoring that fact. It’s unproductive and I’m not really willing to tolerate that.
       
      I’m at a loss how you completely missed the point on the impacts of pornography. Total loss. Don’t do this again. If you’re not willing to actually examine the issues, do not comment on them. This blog has always been moderated. I expect you to do what I expect of any person in a position to impact a wide audience: research. It will not do for you evade examination. And I will not tolerate it.
       
      View this as a challenge from a well-meaning peer. I hope you rise to the occasion.
       
      It’s OK to ask questions. It’s not OK to make ignorant statements about things you clearly do not know much about (this critique being based strictly on your most recent responses; you don’t know the subject which you want to comment on).
       
      No hard feelings. But more people enjoying reading and commenting here than you, so it’s important to me to keep the discussions mindful of that.

      • BernardP says

        Doone,
         
        “Games/movies/art play their role in reinforcing, fostering, and teaching both good and bad ideas.”
         
        I do not believe anyone is questioning that.
         
        But I cannot endorse a widespread censorship of art.
        If a game uses sexist or otherwise offensive imagery, I will recognise and criticise this. But the creatives in all industries have the right to depict their worlds according to their vision, be it utopian or ugly.

        • Doone says

           @BernardP I’d like to know where I proposed censorship. Can either of you point out to anywhere in this entire article (or site) where this has been proposed?

        • Doone says

           @BernardP Oh, forgot to mention Azuriel directly questioned the idea being quoted above in his response.

        • says

           @Doone  @BernardP 
          “I’d like to know where I proposed censorship. Can either of you point out to anywhere in this entire article (or site) where this has been proposed?”
           
          I’d like to know what other possible conclusion one can reach at the end of your argument. If a game plays a role in reinforcing, fostering, and teaching BAD IDEAS… then what?
           
          “Oh, forgot to mention Azuriel directly questioned the idea being quoted above in his response.”
           
          What I have been questioning is THE DEGREE to which you claim games affect a person. If playing games that feature Objectification of women leads to a person Objectifying women IRL, then holy Christ we better start some recalls before the Thunderdome gets built because sexism would only be the beginning our worries.

        • Doone says

           @BernardP You’re all over the place, Az. I don’t know how you leapt to that conclusion about censorship, though I see that in your mind censorship is the only other option if sexualization isn’t on the table. For you, we can have sexualization or we can have censorship — no room for anything else!
           
          You’re focusing a bit too much on closing statements that proposed little more than games have impact. That’s all. Don’t get hung up on it.

      • says

        @Doone
        Your blog, your rules.
         
        No discussion is possible, however, starting from “Every word of my last paragraph is true, whether anyone wants to accept that or not.” That is a religious statement, not an intellectual one. But assuming the question you ask in the very next sentence was sincere, I merely have to ask how many people you have killed given your (presumably) extensive training in murder simulations. Or how many antiwoman simulations (via Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball, perhaps) it would take to have you embrace misogyny.
         
        Games can have real-life effects (emotions, etc), but the leap between that and changed behavior is much too far without specific and conclusive evidence. And even if you fall back to “reinforcement”  argument, the subjectivity of what constitutes reinforcement makes it uncompelling. A female police officer pulling over a misogynist “reinforced” said misogynist’s persecution complex, but we would never blame the police officer.
         
        All of this is besides the point though, because believe it or not, WE ARE ON THE SAME SIDE. I do not need be persuaded that games are “corrupting the youth” to recognize that the discomfort women feel about depictions of the female form (regardless of *why*) is both real and valid. I agree with them/you/us: let us have more body types, let us have reasonable clothes for the characters, let us have strong female characters without a dependance on boyfriends/princes/etc, let us have more diversity, let us have all of that. I *want* those things, in fact.

        • Doone says

          My closing statements were strictly that “it’s not *just* games”. Many use these kinds of statements to dismiss the fact that fantasy art/games have and do harm perceptions of people and reinforce negative stereotypes. You took it to the grand leap of mass murder, not me. I’m not willing to engage in in a discussion about a persons individual propensity to violence and other psychoanalysis of *who* will more likely murder after playing Grand Theft at this juncture — it’s overboard and besides the point. Interesting topic, but a bit beyond the scope of my intended message.
           
          The discussion is and has been sexualization and my argument was and continues to be that it’s harmful, that women are the sole target of it, and there’s no male equivalent. Feel free to show me the ways in which this is wrong and I’ll gladly engage you.
           
          Your comments about pornography, though, really belie your statement that “we are on the same side.” I don’t see how when you don’t seem to grasp the subject matter. When you’re pointing out that “the point of pornography is to objectify and fixate on a few choice body parts” you’re simultaneously pointing to the elephant in the room while not seeing it. You didn’t make the connection, but that is a personal challenge that you have to make up your own mind to understand. You missed a crucial point there with that statement, but I hope later you can really think on it and uncover why.
           
          Anyway, if we’re on the same side then you’ve got to get a handle on the subject matter. Your current arguments demonstrate that you’re not really grasping the concepts of sexism and sexualization, and therefore you’re not seeing how they work. Again, it’s the kind of thing people have to make up their minds to genuinely look into and understand, not something that can be cured in a discussion on the matter.

        • BernardP says

          To be fair to Azuriel, your argument brings in lots of different themes.
          Contrary to the title, it has nothing to do with Tobold or people like Tobold, or his fantasies (whatever these might be – we have no idea from his blog post).
           
          That is how both Azuriel and I can simultaneously agree with some of your central tenets whilst disagreeing with others. Also we are left to infer your recommendations, which is how we came to conclusion that you wanted games/artistic content censored.

        • Doone says

           @BernardP Neither of you were left to “infer.” But you did, because there are assumptions at work in your minds which are absent from my post. In any case, I’ve cited 2 alternatives in these replies to censorship. Point out the quotes/areas which make you “infer” censorship? The only way I can see that you’re picking up inferences is that you think on some level that taking out sexualization is removing something important from art. That’s a big leap, though but I can’t imagine how else you’ve got censorship themes from my article. Neither of you have quoted these inferences to help me see this point? What’s lead you there?
           
          Rhetorical questions. I think we’ve exhausted your “points”. And I’ve responded to them. I won’t persist. 

      • camazotz says

         @Doone If I take your second to last paragraph to heart, then it sounds like you are implying that any circumstance in which a man finds himself attracted to the physical traits of a woman is automatically reprehansible. Are you suggesting that every time I am in bed with my wife and I have sexual feelings toward her then I am by default dehumanizing her by the simple act of aknolwledgeding my sexual attraction to her? How as a society can we reach a point of compromise where one can feel sexually attracted to another person on a physical level if doing so seems to necessitate objectification of that person, and you are equating sexual objectification even on a very basic level as always bad, all the time? I love my wife, and I am deeply attracted to her, but feeling that she is desirable does not mean I don’t also appreciate who she is as a person, though it does mean that in the end my sexual attraction for her derives from her physical features first and not her artistic talent, mental prowess or engaging personality. Those features engender love and respect.
         
        I’m sorry, but while I agree that there is a rampant problem in our society with the overt sexualization of women in media in general, I feel that demonizing men for experiencing a sense of desire for women is only going to exacerbate the problem. To progress, we need to determine how to empower women and engender respect for them, but not at the cost of supressing sexuality in its entirety. There is almost certainly a happy medium out there, but we can’t reach it until both men and women are on an equal footing, with an equal share of the emotional and social power both socially and sexually. Getting rid of damaging depictions of one gender in art and games is a right step. Telling men in general that we are the problem for even experiencing physical attraction toward the opposite sex is not. You can’t make it go away, you can only supress it….and supressing sexuality, in my opinion, is part of what got us in this fix in the first place.

        • Doone says

           @camazotz I’m not sure how you leapt to “every sexual feeling ever” is wrong when the statements I make clearly speak *solely* of objectification. Solely and explicitly stated in the paragraph you’re citing. Reread it and if you still think it says something else, quote me the statement so I can address it.
           
          Guys, before you post responses go have a cup of coffee/smoke a cigarette/or otherwise calm your nerves to curb the jumping to wild conclusions. It’s just a way to derail actual conversation.
           
          As to suppressing sexuality …not something that can be covered from this article or in the comments really. However, I agree this is also a subject of importance. It just has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
           
          I’ll be making a follow up in which I spend the whole article talking about these words: sex, sexy, and sexualization. I don’t think I realized how few people understand the differences and what these things mean. Please do continue to follow-up. I’d love to get you guys back into a discussion on these differences and maybe we can all have our eyes opened to how we’re looking at these issues.
           
          Could go a long ways in helping us understand one another’s experiences and curb the jumping around to wild conclusions.

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