Anita Sarkeesian actually produced content, guys! Like, real, honest to God content that she said she was going to produce and was given an egregious amount of money to do. It’s only been years, right? I know I’ve said this before, but if I financially supported Feminist Frequency when it first started, I would be pissed right now.
This video is only 6 minutes by the way. Oh, the effort it must have taken, the months and months of arduous research that required so much time and funding to complete!
It’s about asses. Hard hitting academia here, folks.
If you want to get to know a character, learn about their interests, goals, or desires, their butt is probably not going to give you that information.
No way. Really? Unless they’re like a My Little Pony or something with a helpful picture on their butt, I guess you’re right, Anita.
It won’t tell you much about who they are, or what they’re thinking or feeling at any given time. But video game designers often choose to put tremendous focus on the butts of certain characters, while going to almost absurd lengths to avoid calling attention to the butts of others.
I just want to point out that she used Watchdogs as an example of this. Oh no, not a jacket! The lengths they’re going through to cover his ass are tremendous!
These carefully crafted choices developers make about camera angles and clothing significantly impact how players think about and relate to these characters.
Citation needed. It took you how many years to put this out and you can’t even link to one hack article about how people relate to fictional characters? Seriously, you can’t just say that something had “a serious impact” without backing it up. Who is saying this? Did you ask any gamers? Oh, wait, gamers are dead so I guess there’s no one to ask. I forgot.
Also, for someone who insists that she doesn’t believe in an evil mustache-twirling patriarchy intentionally harming women, it sure sounds like that is what you think. These “carefully crafted choices” are all made under the full knowledge that they’re keeping women down, after all. It isn’t like there are actual factors involved in deciding what POV a game should be in. Nope, it’s all arbitrary.
Third-person games with female protagonists typically display those characters in a way that gives players a full-body view. A classic example of this is the original Tomb Raider games, which are presented from a third-person perspective wherein protagonist Lara Croft’s entire body is visible.
Oh no, not her entire body. It is almost like they were still in the process of developing human physics and anatomy in games or something.
In these early Tomb Raider games, Lara’s butt is typically right in the center of the screen, a camera orientation which, along with the sexualized clothing the designers chose to outfit her in, places a tremendous amount of emphasis on that part of her body.
Her ass is right in the center of the screen because the camera is behind her and following her along. What do you want done here, Anita? The 3-rd person elevated camera is the angle that allows the most breadth of vision for the player. Almost every game that came out that had a player character at the time used it. You are complaining that a game with a female player character was shot the same way every other game was. Equality? Run away!!!
I’ll get to the clothes thing in a minute.
In dozens of third-person games with playable female characters, the character’s butt is brought to the forefront and that’s where the player’s focus is directed. In Batman: Arkham City for instance, the player’s gaze is drawn to Catwoman’s behind, which is emphasized by her costume and exaggerated hip sway.
Dozens? If you’re going to use a weasel word, use a good one. Thousands of games exist. You found so many games you don’t like that the list got into the double digits?! Oh, brave wonders!
Once again, who is saying these things? Do you have any reason to believe that the people who played that game did nothing but oggle Catwoman’s ass? The entirety of their focus was on it? I played that game personally, and I was more focused on playing the fucking game. I also watched YouTube let’s plays. And just in case you don’t remember the content of your stolen footage, Anita (I know you didn’t actually play the game at this point), I could not find one let’s play that mentioned Catwoman’s ass for any significant amount of the time. I invite you all to look yourselves. The most you get is “Damn, she’s got a nice ass/rack ,” said once in the beginning and never brought up again. The rest of the comments on her appearance were centered on how good the graphics were as they became invested in the game. I know, shocking.
She has an exaggerated hip sway to a.) Differentiate her from other characters who all have unique movements and fighting styles in that series and b.) To be sexy because Catwoman as a character is one intended to be overtly sensual. Her sensuality combined with her overall competence is what draws Batman to her. There is nothing wrong with that.
Golden Axe: Beast Rider makes extremely sure that we notice the protagonist’s butt just before we take control and start playing. And here in Tomb Raider: Underworld, to say that Lara’s butt is being emphasized would be putting it mildly.
Okay, I’m actually really annoyed. I’m going to say this very bluntly. Anita Sarkeesian doesn’t respect these women. She doesn’t respect them as characters, and she doesn’t respect them as people, female or otherwise. Because all she gives a damn about is how they look. That is all she cares about. It doesn’t matter that Lara Croft is iconic, an action hero renowned for being both intelligent and a badass. It doesn’t matter that the main character in Golden Axe is a great warrior entrusted with important knowledge and responsibilities. Nope! Croft wears short shorts and bikini bottoms! And Golden Axe has an in-between-the-legs shot. So everything these female characters do and say, what they’re capable of, and how they’re viewed both in and out of universe is irrelevant. How they look erases who they actually are as characters and the impact they have.
And a feminist is the one spewing this idea forth like it’s progressive and empowering. What?!
And this happens all too often.
You still haven’t talked about what makes this inherently problematic. Why does this need to stop, exactly?
Let’s contrast the way that women’s butts are emphasized with the sometimes absurd lengths taken to cover up or hide men’s butts. If some of this footage looks jerky, that’s because in some games, trying to get a glimpse of male characters’ butts can feel a bit like wrestling with the camera.
Does Anita live on this planet? Games are made for human consumption. Forget men and women. Humans. Unless you’re gay, no one wants to see a guy’s ass. Women are the sex that has been deemed “the attractive sex.” The reason that women are so often used in sex sells advertisement is that even other straight women appreciate and positively respond to an attractive female form. The same cannot be said of men. So having attractive female characters actually does appeal to wider audiences, not just straight men. (It wasn’t always like this, by the way, in Greco-Roman society young men were the ones deemed universally attractive).
And since the ass has been deemed an attractive physical characteristic on women, you’re going to see their asses more. Just like in real life, by the way. When someone decides to make men’s asses attractive, we’ll see more, but men and women have different bodies which means different aspects of those bodies have been deemed hot. For women, it’s their breasts and butt. For men it’s abbs and jawlines. That is why certain features are emphasized more.
In short-you don’t see men’s asses because the players don’t want to see that, men or women players. Women would rather see them from the front, if you catch my drift. Appealing to the people you are making something for? What is this witchcraft?!
Common ways men’s butts are hidden are by preventing the player from seeing below the character’s waistline, or employing a more over-the-shoulder camera angle, which has the added benefit of keeping the character’s butt safely out of the frame.
Are you absolutely sure that you’re not a conspiracy theorist?
The most amusing solution is to simply include a cape, tunic, long coat or very conveniently positioned piece of tattered fabric which actively prevents the player from getting a clear or sustained look at the protagonist’s butt.
Has it occurred to you that capes and dusters are just cool, Anita? I know it’s in your nature to over analyze things, but Rule of Cool exists. It’s why every single anime outfit in existence exists, both the awful skimpy ones and the awful ones that deprive you of men’s butts. Also, their are male characters with asses on full display (Nightwing from the Arkham games, Spiderman, shit tons of Japanese games, etc).
For the purposes of this video I tried to get a glimpse of Batman’s rear end, but it’s as if his cape is a high-tech piece of Wayne Industries equipment designed to cover up his butt at all costs. I like to jokingly refer to this aspect of a male character’s costume as the strategic butt covering.
In the same fucking game, you can play as Nightwing and oggle his ass all you want. I also feel inclined to point out that many a male and female let’s player pointed out Batman’s dick in the costume changing panels. Just saying.
Of course, not all games with male protagonists keep the character’s butt obscured or out of frame like these games do. The real issue is one of emphasis and definition; a significant portion of third-person games with female protagonists call attention to those characters’ butts in a way that’s meant to be sexually appealing to the presumed straight male player.
And this is where Anita loses me every time. If something is hot to a straight man, get rid of it!!! It’s objectifying. It’s awful. What is wrong with being sexually appealing, Anita? If it wasn’t made to be sexy, would it be fine? Is it because the characters are designed by evil, horny men? Stop talking about Bayonetta then, because a woman created her. Also, let’s just ignore all the lesbians who definitely appreciate some hot lady characters. Or the gay guys with crushes on Nathan Drake. Only straight men play video games! Wait a minute. . . .
In this regard, the way that women’s bodies are depicted is significantly different from the way that men’s bodies are depicted. There are a few examples of male protagonists who are wearing clothing that calls attention to their butts but for the most part, men’s butts, even when visible in the frame, are deemphasized.
So, if it called attention to their thighs would it be okay? Is it the ass and the ass specifically that is off limits for oggling?
Plenty of male heroes wear baggy pants or jeans, Uncharted’s Nathan Drake among them, but nothing about his visual design or the jeans he’s wearing encourages you to focus on his butt as some sort of defining aspect of his character.
Yeah, and no one views Lara Croft’s ass as an aspect of her character either. Or Catwoman’s. Or Bayonetta, or anyone else. No one remembers any of those characters as “the chick with the ass.” They are characters that are appreciated by the players as characters. You are the one saying that their asses are defining character traits. You are the one saying that it takes the focus away from other things. You are the one saying that having a nice ass somehow makes everything else about them a moot point. You are the one saying these things, Anita. Not the people who actually play and care about the games. You. Maybe this is a personal problem.
By contrast, the emphasis placed on the butts of female characters communicates to players that this is what’s important, this is what you should be paying attention to. It communicates that the character is a sexual object designed for players to look at and enjoy.
Well, it’s a game. Looking at and enjoying it is what it’s for. This is the Jack Thomas (Thompson? I don’t care.) Argument. Video games are murder simulators! They make people want to be violent! Video games are templates for the real world! They teach you to be sexist! Neither of these claims are backed up. Research has shown that the most video games do is enforce what you already think, whether it be negative or positive.
Once again, Anita, you are the one who is focusing on asses. Do you have anything to back up this claim that male players are actually paying that much attention to it? Even a hack feminist study that conveniently forgets to mention that a character centered on the screen will have the lower body as the center point? Not even that? And, while I’m at it, do you have any study that shows that gamer guys dehumanize women in real life because of the games they play? If not, this is all just conjecture and you spewing what you want to be the case with no evidence for it.
And by explicitly encouraging you to ogle and objectify the character, the game is implicitly discouraging you from identifying directly with her.
I’m starting to think that Anita is just a sociopath at this point. People have the capacity to like looking at something and yet still acknowledge it as a sentient being, Anita. Finding someone attractive does not mean that the part of your brain that acknowledges them as a person gets turned off. There are hack studies that use neurology to sound smart that neglect to mention that different parts of the brain can do multiple things. But, so far, the only evidence of overt objectification points to us dehumanizing homeless people, not men dehumanizing women.
All that being said, even if men objectified women in video games, so? They are pixelated fictional constructs. They actually are objects, and the human brain is smart enough to tell the difference. The human brain reacts differently to images of people than it does real people in front of them. It reacts differently to fictional events than it does to real events. People have the ability to discern reality from fiction, is the point I’m getting at. It is why the “video games are murder simulators” idea doesn’t hold water. It’s why this idea doesn’t hold water: Players don’t regard animated pictures depicting fictional characters as real? Good. It means they’re sane. Just because you like torturing Sims and making roller coasters go off the track in Roller Coaster Tycoon, that doesn’t mean you treat real people in real life like disposable objects who only exist for your amusement. Just because you like ogling Lara Croft, that doesn’t mean you leave your room and treat real women like shit. It is fantasy, Anita. And I’d argue that if you actually are inclined to be murderous or misogynistic, getting it all out in a fictional, fantasy medium that you can tack your negstive impulses onto and where no one is actually harmed is better than the alternative.
Strategic butt coverings and camera angles that obscure or de-emphasize male characters’ rear ends are not an accident; they are a conscious decision made with great care, and the flipside of this is that designers often do the opposite when the protagonist is female.
But what about the Illuminati’s thought control experiments being distributed by the Free Masons using technology that the CIA developed with the Nazis to make the obvious rape culture in America really difficult to notice?
This difference in how male and female characters are framed often extends into the advertisements and box covers. Women’s butts are front and center, and it’s even become a depressing joke that their bodies are twisted and contorted in uncomfortable or unnatural ways so that their breasts and butt can be visible in the same shot. In contrast, when men are depicted from behind, there is great effort taken to cover up their rear end, often with other images or shadows.
It’s almost like sex sells or something. And I actually do have an issue with the sexy poses thing, but that’s from a strictly artistic perspective: Just be anatomically correct, dammit. If it’s more cartoonish and obviously not trying to be realistic, like Bayonetta, I don’t care, it’s just when they suspend the otherwise prevalent realism to give a woman an L spine that annoys me. Looking at you Frank Miller.
Of course, female characters can also be framed in ways that aren’t objectifying. A good example of this is the episodic adventure game Life Is Strange, in which the protagonist’s butt isn’t emphasized or cfor her, entralized; the camera angles work in conjunction with the story to encourage us to identify with her as a human being.
Can we just take a step back and acknowledge that Anita’s criticisms seem to stem mainly from her just not liking action games. She likes play novels and puzzle games, and Retro point and clicks. Which is all fine, but this is really just coming across as someone complaining that everything needs to be made for her, even when she has no inclination to play the things that she says should be made to appeal to her. It’d be like me insisting that death metal should be made more accessible to people like me even though I’m in no way interested in it and will never be interested even if they change it.
Sadly, the box art for the third-person action-adventure game Beyond Good & Evil emphasizes and sexualizes Jade’s butt.
What is with this woman and her hard-on for utterly diminishing good things for arbitrary reasons? “I like this game! It meets all my ridiculous standards somehow, not really, but I’ll pretend it does! Wait, the box art is too sexy?! Problematic!!!!!!”
The game itself, however, demonstrates that the Nathan Drake approach of outfitting a character in clothing that doesn’t emphasize their butt and not having the camera center it or focus on it can work just as well to humanize female characters as it does for male characters.
I pointed this out before and I’ll do it again. You can see Jade’s panties. But Anita has to save face, she can’t admit that a game she likes does things that she’s ripped into other games for doing. Just keep pretending that game meets the impossible standards you set, Anita. Keep pretending. It’s hilarious.
Also, this is super hypocritical in another way. She just said that BGE has a misleading cover because it “objectified” the main character when the game itself made her complex and interesting, and not just something nice for the player to look at. Where the hell is that concern for content for literally any of the other games she has talked about? Jade gets a pass, but all the other characters who look too sexy just don’t get anything? They are too sexy, end of story, content and character portrayal doesn’t matter.
I’m just confused now. Honestly.
So to be clear, the solution here is not to simply show more butts of male characters. Equal opportunity butt display is definitely not the answer.
Why not? Equality is what you want, right? So it won’t be an issue of sexism if we start ogling guys’ asses just as much. And ending sexism is your goal. I see nothing inherently wrong with oggling hot images, so why couldn’t this be a solution? Wait a minute, Anita is sex negative to the nth degree. I’m just happy that her dismissal of human sexuality at least extends to ogling men too.
Rather, the solution is to deemphasize the rear ends of female characters, so that players are encouraged not to ogle and objectify these women, but to identify and empathize with them as people.
You still have given no credible reason for me to believe that sexy=no empathy besides “feminism says so.” That’s not a reason. Does it actually lead to that consequence?! God, I give up.
This is not an impossible task given that game designers do this all the time with their male characters. It’s time they started consistently doing it with their female characters, too.
Or, or, hear me out here. You can stop being a domineering, dictorial, imperative jackass who just tells everyone else what they should be doing like you’re the moral authority on the matter, and you can get off your collective asses and start making the games that you want to see. I have no problems with those games existing. Make all the inclusive proggressive games you want. I have a problem with you bursting in like you own the place and demanding that the actual artists, the actual content creators who actually make things that they want, do what you want otherwise they’re bad people.
That is my issue. You call these game makers misogynist and racist and sexist because they don’t make things for you and you specifically, even though you showed no interest in it to begin with. You came into a subculture that you clearly give no fucks about, called it sexist and evil, and demanded it change itself for you. And when people didn’t want to do that, you called them misogynists too.
Be the change you want to see. If you don’t think there are enough feminist games out there, go out and make them. Don’t co-opt someone else’s group or someone else’s artistic vision and force them to do it for you. Anita could have made more than one Indie game for the amount of money she was given. She could have created something, but instead she chose to point out what everyone else was doing wrong and apply moral pressure to make things go her way, even though her “objective statements” are little more than subjective, ideology driven opinions, just like the guy who thought video games made people sociopaths. The only difference is that people inexplicably still listen to Anita.