Liking things that are bad for you*

One common thread I’ve noticed a lot in posts about Grand Theft Auto, Baby Mama, Madonna, and others recently, is hostility to criticism of something the poster enjoys. Simplifying it, some of the comments come off as “well, I like it, so it can’t be that bad� or “it’s funny, so don’t take it so seriously.� I think it’s natural to want to defend something you enjoy, and reject the idea that it is sexist or damaging. I feel it too. But that doesn’t mean we’re right to defend it to the end. Liking something does not negate its ability to harm. Enjoying something that is anti-woman doesn’t make you a bad person. Or even a bad feminist. But thinking about why you enjoy it, and looking at the negative side could help you be a better one.
A big part of my coming to feminism is, as Melissa aptly describes, is taking the “red pill� and acknowledging the sexism and misogyny around us. That’s one of the things I have always liked about Feministing, the constant coverage of the barrage of anti-woman sentiments across all aspects of life. It’s easy to stop seeing all of the things that put women down because there are so many. A good kick in the ass reminder, while depressing at times, helps fuel action.
That’s not all there is to feminism, but it’s a big step to start, and a long, but valuable process. So often it feels like we’re trying to remove dimensions of things to make them easy to understand and decide. Whether it’s popular culture, or politics, or race, it seems like everything should be boiled down to good or bad, yes or no, us or them. And no one wants to be on the “wrong� side. But life’s rarely that simple. And in order to make the changes we want to see in the world, I think we need to acknowledge that, and embrace it. The bad news is a lot of the issues we address here on Feministing are complicated and messy. And touch on things we don’t think about, or don’t want to think about more deeply. The good news is that’s not going to stop us, and I know we’re all up to the task.
*Title not a reference to my fondness for Friday happy hours that last all night, or watching 3 hours of Twin Peaks at a time.

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88 Comments

  1. sgzax
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    You learned more about the game from hearing a story of one mission that is misogynistic than from all the others that explain the game more thoroughly in its whole setting instead of focusing on one negative?
    I learned more from a person willing to apply a critical lens to her experience of the game than people invested in defending the game from all criticism and lying about its contents in order to support their claims, yes.
    Interesting that when an experienced person presents a valid criticism you rush to marginalize and dismiss her experience. So it isn’t the experience or lack of it that you dislike in this criticism, it’s the fact that the criticism exists at all.
    Scary.

  2. Bardock42
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    And yes I still believe it’s hard to find a female character in videogames who looks “normal/average” and acts empowered. Didn’t say there were none there, but I think I’ve yet to see an extensive list that could compete with the list I could come up with of games with misogyny/women as objects…

    What’s wrong with all the games mentioned in this thread?
    As for super mario, it’s true that he is not idealized, but there’s still a large trend to make males just as ridiculously looking as women. As for Pokemon, I believe there is a female version of the player as well, not sure how that would count.

  3. Bardock42
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I learned more from a person willing to apply a critical lens to her experience of the game than people invested in defending the game from all criticism and lying about its contents in order to support their claims, yes.
    Interesting that when an experienced person presents a valid criticism you rush to marginalize and dismiss her experience. So it isn’t the experience or lack of it that you dislike in this criticism, it’s the fact that the criticism exists at all.
    Scary.

    Would be more scary if I had actually done what you accuse me of.
    It is just ridiculous to say you learned more about the game from one testimony that happens to agree with your preset evaluation of it and not of the many other information about the game beyond the one mission.

  4. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    “What’s wrong with all the games mentioned in this thread?”
    Well a couple I don’t agree with, most I think are fine.
    The key words, however, were /extensive list/ that “could compete with the list I could come up with of games with misogyny/women as objects”

  5. Nora
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t claim to know anything about Grand Theft Auto, but it seems to me that any person hoping to see the world change in positive ways with regards to feminism has got to be an advocate for women’s rights all the time, and not just when it is convenient or self-benefitting. This thread brings to mind conversations that I’ve had with a friend, who is the only female lawyer at a small law firm where all of the lawyers have traditionally been men and all of the assistants/paralegals have traditionally been young women. The firm has a flirtatious powerful male lawyer / hot female paralegal dynamic that is heady for both the men and most of the women. My friend’s brought it up with some of her female coworkers, and they seem to think that the sexual jokes/remarks on appearance are fun, and aren’t at all hurt by it. My friend, of course, is really having trouble getting taken seriously, and wishes that she weren’t the only woman demanding more respect. It’s important for us to think not only about how antifeminist elements of culture effect us, but also how they are effecting the women and men around us.

  6. Bardock42
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    The key words, however, were /extensive list/ that “could compete with the list I could come up with of games with misogyny/women as objects”

    How long is that list and what is on it?
    Also, I still don’t know whether that is a sexism issue or an issue that gamers want idealized characters…male as well as female.

  7. Púka
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I love Oblivion! not only can you play as many races but any race in any gender and and you can adjust the age to quite old. Almost all the blacksmiths are women many of the people who teach you skills fighting, speaking etc.. are women but when you do have one, I stress one, almost laughably masoganistic task, rescuing a village beauty, she turns out to be an ork. and finally there are books you can read in the game: one charts the bisexual journey of a young woman in a very healthy way. can we have a thread on Oblivion please?

  8. Fiz
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Ninapendamaishi, I agree that there are some video games with gender-stereotyped representations of women, much like many films. We can probably all agree that it is reasonable to critique misogyny in film much like we can and should criticize systematic misogyny in all forms of media/art.
    What is not reasonable is to make assertions about a specific form of media/art that are not supportable. It doesn’t help feminism to dismiss video games out of hand as some kind of massively sexist form of entertainment that no feminist could find anything of value in. You mention “trends� as if the overwhelming majority of games these days are rife with misogyny. In fact the trend in video games is to actively court female players by trying to avoid misogynistic representations of women.
    The reason people are here defending video games is because we are feminists that play them and love them. Clearly, as Jen is saying in this post, it is important for feminists to reflect on why we like what we do. I should take a cold hard look at the sexism in some games and evaluate my relationship to that form of entertainment in the larger context of my feminism. I try to do that and I refuse to buy games that I find personally incompatible with being a feminist. I’m willing to speak out to the game industry as a consumer and give them the clear message that I don’t approve and that they are losing business. I talk to game designers about the necessity for gender balance in design studios, I advocate vocally for video games that represent women in positive ways, this is how I will make video games less sexist over time. Your dismissal of my list and of my points do not help make video games nor other forms of entertainment better.

  9. CoasttoCoast
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    “The key words, however, were /extensive list/ that “could compete with the list I could come up with of games with misogyny/women as objects”
    Yes. You’re right. There are more sexist games than not. This is unacceptable. It’s not as if we live in a world where widespread, systemic oppression of women exists! This is surely only a problem with the video game industry, and as such, we should boycott it until it fixes itself.

  10. themoderate
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    The key words, however, were /extensive list/ that “could compete with the list I could come up with of games with misogyny/women as objects”
    That’s a silly standard. That standard leaves no room to indicate whether things are improving in the gaming world.
    Improvement comes slowly, and the list will continue to grow as more women become gamers.

  11. underwhelm
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Ninapendamaishi moved the goalposts from incredulity about the existence of any (“conspicuous absence”) to the list of conforming games not being long enough.
    I can appreciate that s/he is setting a high bar for games that satisfy whatever criteria one might hold for a suitably feminist game, but I think the mode of rhetoric is unnecessarily hostile.

  12. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    “Yes. You’re right. There are more sexist games than not. This is unacceptable. It’s not as if we live in a world where widespread, systemic oppression of women exists! This is surely only a problem with the video game industry, and as such, we should boycott it until it fixes itself.”
    Don’t be ridiculous. No one was saying we should boycott all games. This was a thread about learning to criticize pop culture, even that that we may enjoy, and then a bunch of people got on /again/ to defend the game. That’s the debate I was participating in.
    Although for what it’s worth, since having a friend raped and becoming trained to counsel survivors of sexual abuse, I do actively avoid violence against women in media to a greater extent than I used to.

  13. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    “Improvement comes slowly, and the list will continue to grow as more women become gamers.”
    Well, hopefully. All the more reason to criticize the games that perpetuate misogyny at the current time then, don’t you think?
    “Ninapendamaishi moved the goalposts from incredulity about the existence of any (“conspicuous absence”) to the list of conforming games not being long enough.”
    I never said “any”. I said “absence” and I suppose I should have said “absence of a significant trend” or something… b/c that’s more what I meant.
    “”The key words, however, were /extensive list/ that “could compete with the list I could come up with of games with misogyny/women as objects”
    How long is that list and what is on it?”"
    Well, going just by what I personally have played, I’d have to say nearly every game I’ve played:
    Gender stereotyping:
    Super Mario (and all the variations thereof)
    Zelda
    James Bond games (Goldeneye, etc.)
    Sexualized women/violence against women:
    Timesplitters
    Everquest
    GTA
    TombRaiders
    Resident Evil
    And then there’s the numerous games where women are absent (Starfox) or are second-hand players and are designated as different by something along the lines of a little pink bow (Sonic, Frogger, Pacman, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, etc.)
    (As you can tell, I grew up with primarily nintendo which of course tends to cater to a kiddy audience. I imagine more “mature” games would have sexual/violent themes more often…)

  14. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Here’s an article about a female game designer and how she feels about the industry:
    http://www.news.com/2100-1043_3-6082459.html

  15. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    A few more problematic games, to add to my list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrayal_of_women_in_video_games
    (again, this is not me putting tons of effort in, obviously)

  16. kate
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    jessicagold, ah, thank you. i guess i was thinking that calling anything consenual and sexual inherently “bad” would negate the name “sex-positive”, but yes i see your point about female submissive fantasies. i do think that its incredibly difficult for ideological feminism to reconcile with submissive, and even at times misogynistic sexual fantasies. and i really have no concrete answers for that because what i have seen in feminism is disheartening to me. however from my personal opinion, i remember a while ago reading this study that suggested that women and men in very powerful positions preferred to be submissive in bed. it was like a trade-off for the authority they embodied in their daily lives.. i always remember this study because it reminded me that while heterosexist ideology certainly has its place in the bedroom, it is by far not the only dynamic of power. i personally believe that power dynamics in the bedroom do *not* have to be a commentary of your character as a feminist, or as woman. but again, this is just my personal opinion, and i know there are a lot of people who don’t feel that way..

  17. underwhelm
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Ninapendamaishi,
    Thank you for your clarification. I would agree with you that all of the classes of games you identify are subject to feminist critique (though I would identify sexualized women and violence against women as separate classes and some games would find themselves in both). And maybe the topic is too far afield, but in my mind no classification would be complete without games that sexualize or commit violence against men–which would be many of the same games. I think feminist critique should contribute to our understanding of violence and sexuality in popular culture regardless of sex or gender. But I understand this may be a subset of feminist thought that isn’t shared by everyone.
    But in an attempt to go back to my original point and the topic of this post, there are varying degrees of quality in criticism, and no criticism is immune to meta-criticism merely by virtue of being critical—even feminist criticism.
    I’ll try not to belabor my point any further.

  18. Vodalus
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Um, you guys have kind of kidnapped this thread and transformed it into a debate about the entire gaming industry, as if it were some hegemonic edifice.
    I’m not certain that’s productive.
    (Especially since trends in gaming have suddenly started to change in the last couple of years towards more inclusive titles. Also, any debate in Game Design should be coupled with discussion of how % enrollments of female students in Computer Science have been stagnant or in decline since the mid-’80s.)

  19. MLEmac
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think I commented on the GTA thread, I don’t remember, but I have been a fan of those games for many years. I definitely consider it mysoginistic and it has some really bad missions involving a number of things I find rather despicable…..like murder for example. I also strongly dislike the whole hooker aspect, but
    I. can’t. stop. playing.
    So, I’m not going to defend it or embrace it as part of my feminist identity, but I enjoy it.
    So yeah, not much of a point here, I’m just making up for the fact that I never said anything on the original thread.

  20. Mina
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    “I love anime. I think Japanese animation is gorgeous, innovative, imaginative, and extremely entertaining. It can also be really misogynistic. From the way that 90% of the females in anime are drawn to some of the more blatantly misogynistic women-are-weaker story lines involved, anime can be hard for a feminist to like.”
    …unless she doesn’t lump ‘em all together in the first place. ;)
    Personally, I find it easy to like Princess Mononoke :) at the same time as some other stuff with the same format of media and nation of origin glorifies rape.
    “Now, as the post above shows, I’ve taken the red pill, can accept that anime is misogynistic at times and hate it a little for that, yet still keep going back to it for entertainment. What I do is purchase and watch more of the female-positive anime and hope that my dollars set the trend for anime producers to stop the misogynist anime in favor of the pro-female ones.”
    That reminds me of the way I don’t lump all English-language blogs together, instead of going “Anglophone blogs aren’t misogynist!!!” or “some of my fave websites are Anglophone blogs, therefore they must have misogynist components, but I still like them.”
    Likewise, when you enjoy non-misogynistic anime titles I bet you’re not enjoying something with misogynistic components. :)
    “‘Um, you guys have kind of kidnapped this thread and transformed it into a debate about the entire gaming industry, as if it were some hegemonic edifice.’
    “I’m not certain that’s productive.”
    Exactly!
    “Oh yeah? Name me games that are not gender-conforming and where the female characters have an average body-type (or at least one that’s not highly unusual/sexualized).”
    Tetris. Minesweeper. Solitaire. Final Fantasy 6 (III in the US) for the Super Nintendo. ;)

  21. deano99
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    It would be great to see more women in the games industry.
    The wages are pretty good, the roles can be creative (artist/desiner/writer) or techie/programming.
    The industry will employ anyone with the talent.
    GTA4 was made by – mostly – men who wanted to create something that provided visceral, violent thrills, a good laugh and an great city to muck around in.
    They didn’t want to make a brilliant platform game or tetris clone or Zelda stlye rpg.
    So they didn’t.
    The President of RockstarGames speaks here in a long interview:
    http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9568&Itemid=2
    I’m not interested in blindly defending gta4. I will, however, happily contest misinformation, errors or misunderstandings about anything (games,gamers, men, whatever)
    I remain sympathetic to feminism but – an analogy here -it’s up to women to write great feminist friendly literature for women – men can’t do it.
    Ditto with games.

  22. Mina
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    “It would be great to see more women in the games industry.”
    …and if you don’t want to get into the industry but still want to try making a game (I may never finish the game I started, but it’s still fun to play with the game maker), try the links here: http://indiegamecreators.net/makers.html :D

  23. Posted May 5, 2008 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    “I remain sympathetic to feminism but – an analogy here -it’s up to women to write great feminist friendly literature for women – men can’t do it.
    Ditto with games.”
    Dean099, are you serious? Of COURSE men can write great feminist-friendly literature and games. One of my favorite TV writers is both quite feminist and male. The responsibility for egalitarian representation cannot fall entirely to women… especially when we’re already at a disadvantage in this culture.

  24. Mina
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I just realized something else: what about using amateur game making software to *edit* games, even if one just likes playing other amateurs’ free-download offers and doesn’t want to make any games herself or himself?
    For example, right now I’m playing Ara Fell, a game made with RPGMaker 2003. I was stuck on one of the labyrinths, opened it up in the maker to fin the way out (so what if it’s cheating at the game?), and took a look at some of the plot scenes ahead.
    So far the game is cool (it has a strong female main character and nobody has an “ideal” figure), but one of the plot twists ahead reminds me of an obnoxious romantic comedy cliché (to say which one would be a spoiler). It’s not as vile as some of the sexist GTA4 options, but still annoys me. Now it just dawned on me…
    …opening up other amateurs’ games with my copy of game makers isn’t just for adding shortcuts, it can also be for rewriting dialogue. ;)

  25. Mina
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Oops, typo. That should be “opening up other amateurs’ games with my copies of game makers.”

  26. Posted May 5, 2008 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Though the visuals are a bit rudimentary to assess body type, Baldurs’ Gate 2 had Jaheria, who is particularly interesting to consider from the perspective of gender. She embodies characteristics which are both seen as traditionally masculine and feminine, even down to her dual class nature. (Druid/Fighter)

    Viconia is way cooler and has better spells.

  27. Spider Jerusalem
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Another franchise that has equal representation of females and males and access to ALL body types is City of Heroes and City of Villains. You can build your character to look however you want them to look. Inside and out.
    Also, on the Sims 1, the skinning process does have its flaws, but you can make your Sims as “average” as you like, though not morbidly obese (maybe they’re waiting for a Sims expansion for specially abled Sims).
    On the other hand, the only Mario-franchise game that stars a female, Super Princess Peach, relies on her “emotional vibes” as her main weapon.

  28. Okra
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    It seems I’m in the minority of posters to this thread who took the original post to be about defending any personal pleasures–not just video games– that don’t align well with (or, at the worst, contradict) our feminist/humanist frames of reference. (I did read the GTA thread, with as open a mind as I could considering I have not played the game).
    In the context of the game controversy alone, Jen’s post might seem to be a bit too convenient and one-sided in service of a game-wary stance (or at least a stance wary of games that have clearly anti-woman/human themes).
    But I applied her post to myself and my own pleasures–none of which, as another poster pointed out, are “guilty;” I don’t use guilt-terminology in any aspect of my life.
    Let me give you an example. I love genre fiction of the sort that is often ridiculed in the academic circles I move in: sci-fi, fantasy, romance, horror, mystery, and Young Adult. I am well aware of the misogynistic and subtly xenophobic elements that pervade many of my favorite works in these genres. But rather than stop reading them–or, on the other end of the spectrum, hotly defending them against the mean feminist and race-conscious critics, *of which I am one*– I’ve tried to negotiate my enjoyment of them with what I consider to be more healthy and constructive steps: I participate in blogs deconstructing some of these problematic elements; I join online forums wherein I publicize/promote those books that DO have strong, sexual-but-not-sexualized, interesting-but-not-exoticized women and non-Western characters; I engage my students in discussion over these topics. (And, although it probably doesn’t help much, I do buy certain works works second-hand to cut-back on the amount of positive reinforcement aka market response publishers and authors of problematic works benefit from).
    And I must say, even given the above, my tastes have evolved to the point where I am no longer as excited about/interested in a work if it has a lot of these unsavory elements. If I see a trite, stereotyped female character or a disturbing and fetishized depiction of a certain cultural group, I move on to other works by other authors; I am not so invested in ANYTHING or anyone (except my mom and dad, perhaps)that I will righteously defend it/them or even enjoy it when it becomes clear that its harmful elements are just too harmful.
    But I know the problem with this: when exactly do we decide something’s too harmful? That’s the rub, I suppose.

  29. Mina
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    “I join online forums wherein I publicize/promote those books that DO have strong, sexual-but-not-sexualized, interesting-but-not-exoticized women and non-Western characters; I engage my students in discussion over these topics.”
    I like genre fiction too. Which titles do you recommend? :D
    “(And, although it probably doesn’t help much, I do buy certain works works second-hand to cut-back on the amount of positive reinforcement aka market response publishers and authors of problematic works benefit from).”
    How about borrowing from the library? :)

  30. Posted May 6, 2008 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    “One common thread I’ve noticed a lot in posts about Grand Theft Auto, Baby Mama, Madonna, and others recently, is hostility to criticism of something the poster enjoys. Simplifying it, some of the comments come off as “well, I like it, so it can’t be that badâ€? or “it’s funny, so don’t take it so seriously.â€? I think it’s natural to want to defend something you enjoy, and reject the idea that it is sexist or damaging. I feel it too. But that doesn’t mean we’re right to defend it to the end. Liking something does not negate its ability to harm. Enjoying something that is anti-woman doesn’t make you a bad person. Or even a bad feminist. But thinking about why you enjoy it, and looking at the negative side could help you be a better one.”
    Was trying to explain exactly this to the bf the other night. Success was limited to say the least. Apparently it is a hard concept for some to grasp.

  31. Posted May 6, 2008 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    “One common thread I’ve noticed a lot in posts about Grand Theft Auto, Baby Mama, Madonna, and others recently, is hostility to criticism of something the poster enjoys. Simplifying it, some of the comments come off as “well, I like it, so it can’t be that badâ€? or “it’s funny, so don’t take it so seriously.â€? I think it’s natural to want to defend something you enjoy, and reject the idea that it is sexist or damaging. I feel it too. But that doesn’t mean we’re right to defend it to the end. Liking something does not negate its ability to harm. Enjoying something that is anti-woman doesn’t make you a bad person. Or even a bad feminist. But thinking about why you enjoy it, and looking at the negative side could help you be a better one.”
    Was trying to explain exactly this to the bf the other night. Success was limited to say the least. Apparently it is a hard concept for some to grasp.

  32. Posted May 6, 2008 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    “One common thread I’ve noticed a lot in posts about Grand Theft Auto, Baby Mama, Madonna, and others recently, is hostility to criticism of something the poster enjoys. Simplifying it, some of the comments come off as “well, I like it, so it can’t be that badâ€? or “it’s funny, so don’t take it so seriously.â€? I think it’s natural to want to defend something you enjoy, and reject the idea that it is sexist or damaging. I feel it too. But that doesn’t mean we’re right to defend it to the end. Liking something does not negate its ability to harm. Enjoying something that is anti-woman doesn’t make you a bad person. Or even a bad feminist. But thinking about why you enjoy it, and looking at the negative side could help you be a better one.”
    Was trying to explain exactly this to the bf the other night. Success was limited to say the least. Apparently it is a hard concept for some to grasp.

  33. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    “Tetris. Minesweeper. Solitaire.”
    I’m not sure games where there aren’t any representations of women /period/ count in the “feminist” camp…

  34. KittehWhiskers
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I am so conflicted about this.
    We can enjoy misogynistic things critically. Surely as feminists we do not process misogyny the same way your average freak of the street does. I love rap a lot (I love conscious hiphop too, but I am talking about straight up, ho/bitch rap)and I feel that the misogyny is so preposterous it has to be ironic. I filter the lyrics through a totally diff. filter than the average rap consumer.
    That being said, there’s a rub. When we do/watch/listen to misogynistic things, we are financially supporting misogyny. The industries behind this stuff don’t separate their profits into feminist dollars vs. general population dollars. The revenues are all the same. We are filling the coffers of a company/whatevs that makes it okay to hate women and sending the financial message that it’s cool to do so.

  35. Paul G. Brown
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Just a brief note on ‘violence against video game women in a video game’.
    Gack. Excuse the fuck out of me, but I really don’t care about the gender of the toon filling my toon with arrows, or the gender of the player cunning enough to position that toon where I can’t easily get to it.
    But as soon as I can haul my cow-like butt around that hill I am gonna pwn the ever living CRAP out of her.
    Which seems to me to be a feminist paradise.

  36. artemiscuous
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    i feel you, lisa ks. the important thing is that we keep trying. they like us, so there must be some hope for them.

  37. Mina
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    “‘Tetris. Minesweeper. Solitaire.’
    “‘I’m not sure games where there aren’t any representations of women /period/ count in the ‘feminist’ camp…”
    They are games that are not gender-conforming and where no female characters have a body-type that’s highly unusual/sexualized. ;)

  38. Posted May 7, 2008 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    It looks like this thread has probably died out, but having read it I feel I’d be remiss not to drop this commentary from a review of someone who has, err, actually played it.
    On the subject of girls, the degradation of women is a large bone of contention for many. Again, I cannot claim it isn’t there — there are indeed strip clubs where you can go and ogle digital breasts, but then, there are strip clubs in real life, so it’s not like Rockstar invented the idea. That’s not what this is about, however — this is about how Rockstar might be discouraging you from objectifying women, and that’s through dating.
    Yes, as with real-life dating for most males, the objective in GTA is to get Niko some pussy. You take a woman out, work out what she likes, and spend time with her, with the goal of getting laid in mind. However, once again, Rockstar crafted some likable characters out of Niko’s dating pool. You get taught that these women have tastes and personalities. It’s not exactly deep, but it’s deeper than you’d expect, and if you think the dating is over when you’ve finally gotten what you were after — think again.
    You end up not just screwing these people, but getting into a relationship with them. It’s like you are intended to feel guilty if you just ditch them after taking what you came for. I scored with Michelle long before I stopped taking her out (for reasons beyond my control). If I forgot her for a while, she called me and I felt bad. Unless you as a person enjoy being an asshole, you’ll realize that these women are not there as objects, but as friendships that need to be maintained. It all goes towards humanizing a game that one could so easily see as nothing but monstrous.
    Speaking of monstrous, the infamous argument that GTA allows you to hire a prostitute, kill her and take back your money has also been colored with dissuasion from the developers. As is tradition, I spent my time looking for a prostitute to hire (don’t judge me!). First off, it’s pretty hard to even find them, but once you have done so, you can begin the ghastly business at hand — and the best thing is that Rockstar has actually made it ghastly!
    As you pick up the prostitute and find somewhere quiet to go, Niko will comment about how pathetic he is, and how desperate he has to be to resort to such a low act. The increased gratuity of the act itself (she gets on top of Niko and mimes wriggling around on his penis) does little to make the act more erotic or glamorous — in fact, it only serves to make the whole sequence feel uncomfortable and nasty. The woman performs the act mostly in silence while Niko tries — and fails — to enjoy it. When it’s all over and she leaves the car, Niko will comment again about how horrible it was, and you are left feeling anything but horny. It’s cold and it’s sleazy, and you feel like a shithead for doing it.
    “Hell, when I ran the prostitute over to see if the money appeared, it didn’t. While I can’t speak for everyone, I have to say that no monetary reward was yielded to me when I killed the woman.
    That Rockstar took one of its most controversial aspects and turned it into an actual piece of effective social commentary, doing nothing but mocking the use of prostitutes, is commendable in my book. Again, if you feel great after using them in GTA IV, it speaks of the player, not of the game itself.
    review

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