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Spaff

The Official DFAF Gender Politics Discussion Thread 2015

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Guys... behave.

I get this is a touchy subject for some people, but that's no excuse for the sort of behaviour going on. If you can't debate and talk in a reasonable fashion, don't do so at all.

Too right.

This thread is back on course, and it will I'm sure it will get heated from time to time, but please try not to be as hostile to one another.

If a moderator comes in and asks for calm, please respect that.

Important: If you are participating in this thread, and especially if you are male then you are very likely to:

1. Piss someone off

2. Learn something

So tread carefully and be open to trying to understand other people's views, or just don't participate.

Simple as that.

Ideally this thread is a place where people, who maybe don't quite get what the deal is, can come to learn why certain behaviours or attitudes might be offensive, and hostility towards offenders is not going to be conducive to that. If someone is being an ass, please try and explain why without belittling them, no matter how pissed off they are making you.

THANKS!

OK, move along, let's get back to the subject at hand:

bge1.png

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bge1.png

Look! It's Double H! He'd be so happy to know that Spaff is posting pictures of him in this thread. =D

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Maybe that deserves it's own thread instead?

on that topic though, i remembered this story from GDC: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/03/04/hopi-less-how-kachina-became-donut-county/

Which has some good advice at the end for this thread too

“When you get called out,” Esposito finished, “shut up and listen. Examine your position. Learn from them. Learn to shut up.”

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Maybe that deserves it's own thread instead?

on that topic though, i remembered this story from GDC: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/03/04/hopi-less-how-kachina-became-donut-county/

Which has some good advice at the end for this thread too

“When you get called out,” Esposito finished, “shut up and listen. Examine your position. Learn from them. Learn to shut up.”

That is very good advice. If a person is calling you out for something, the first thing you should always do is immediately stop. Don't say anything. Stop and seriously consider, why are they saying this? Are they right? What caused this to happen? Even if I disagree with what they are saying right now, do I actually understand why they are saying it? (Hint: "because they're an idiot" doesn't count). Even if their reason is wrong, do I understand where they are coming from? Most importantly, is there any information I'm missing? I should check whether I really know as much about this as I think I know. And as far as what I do know.... HOW do I know it? Where did I get the information? Who told it to me? How does that influence what I feel about it? Etc etc. Plenty of things to think about before getting insta-defensive.

There is a flipside to this, though, I think. If you really wish for the other person to do all of the above, then when you call them out, don't do so in a way that is going to villify yourself toward them. Time and time again it has been proven that if a person has contempt for you, then they don't care what your arguments are, and they will dig in their heels and plug their ears, just to spite you. Almost like they're thinking, "If you're going to attack me for X, then I'm gonna do X even louder just because I'm so upset that you're coming at me about it this way."

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink by holding its head underwater and saying DRINK YOU DAMN STUPID HORSE.

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You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink by holding its head underwater and saying DRINK YOU DAMN STUPID HORSE.

You know the old saying, "drink or drown".

I think that's how it goes.

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You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink by holding its head underwater and saying DRINK YOU DAMN STUPID HORSE.

You know the old saying, "drink or drown".

I think that's how it goes.

Even so!

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Also about the strong/interesting/technicolored female characters... I honestly think that none of those options will really help that much.

What we need first is *more* female characters.

When there's only, like, two women in a video game or movie, there's no room left for nuance because your single female character is now representative of ALL WOMEN EVER. You can't give them flaws because then the question becomes "why did this character act like a coward. DO YOU THINK ALL WOMEN ARE COWARDS???" and no designer wants that. So designers prefer to go with boring female characters because they're so inoffensive there won't be a controversy. Nobody will like them either, but the designers win both ways. They can say they have a female character (suck it, SJWs!) and there's nothing to complain about because there's nothing *there*.

It's like the whole thing with Black Widow in Age of Ultron. People were furious that she had feelings and showed moments of weakness even though the character moments she got were fairly interesting beats that made her a well-rounded character. They wanted the basic inoffensive action girl from Avengers 1 and Winter Soldier, not because that was in any way better, but because since Black Widow was basically the leading woman, she was expected, perhaps unfairly, to represent all women. Any flaw she had would therefore reflect on the status of all women.

Conversely, we have Bruce Banner, my favorite example for lots of things. In the same scene as the "problematic" Black Widow character stuff, he is stated to have EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEMS as Black Widow: he's a monster and can't have children/normal life. But we don't see a huge outcry of people screaming that Whedon's saying he's a monster because he can't have children. Why? Because there's a bunch of other men in the film who don't have the same problems, so it's presumed that this is a character-specific problem, not a blanket statement about all individuals of his gender.

Now, compare this whole incident to a show with LOTS of women... I'm going to choose Orphan Black. Nearly every primary main character in Orphan Black is not only female, but also played by the same actress. This show doesn't just pass the Bechdel test, it creates an inverse test where it's hard to find a scene where two men talk to each other and don't mention a woman. Seriously.

And what do you know? There are women of all types even though most of them look identical. You have the casual con artist impersonating a cop, the hippy lesbian biochemist, the uptight soccer mom addicted to pills who keeps on accidentally murdering people, the crazed Ukranian psychopath invulnerable to pain, the ice queen master strategist and dominatrix, the homeless transman drug addict, the ditzy beautician who's smarter than she looks... and that's only the characters played by the lead actress (they're all clones). Any one of these characters would cause an outrage in a vacuum where they're surrounded by men as the sole representative of femininity, but here, surrounded by lots of other female characters, they serve to create a rich world full of varied individuals. Whereas the male characters, while still interesting, are isolated and tend to be boxed into "promiscuous guy", "conservative guy", and "family guy" stereotypes because there is no room for more nuance.

To me, this really demonstrates that the probability of getting interesting characters in a gender directly correlates to the number of individuals representative of the gender.

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i believe the saying you're looking for is

shirt7.jpg

I had to google that one. That shirt is a lot cooler if you know what it's referring to. xD

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a very tropey "She is mean!! But she will save the puppies!!!"

i think the key to avoiding that is to give the characters a sense of interiority. like they have their own thoughts bubbling around in their head and they're not just an open book. one way to do this, i think, is to show them making mistakes for a reason

for example, in the newest batman game we see that he is refusing help and being kind of obnoxious now. robin is all like "i wants to help you batmans!!!" and batman is like "no!!! it's too dangerous robin!!!" but we the viewer understand this because we know that batman is a complex, tortured soul and he is denying the help he could really use because he is being overprotective. behind that cowl we know that batman just cares too much. so, that's why we like batman. we sympathize with him. he's making a dumb mistake but he's doing it for understandable reasons.

so that's why it's frustrating when we have a character like oracle in the same game who gets captured for seemingly no reason. like, she's the world's smartest super-hacker, as calm and collected as a 911 dispatcher and lives in a high-tech bat-clock-tower. nonetheless she somehow manages to get captured. what, did she forget to lock the bat-door AGAIN? forget to check the bat-security-cameras? while friggin' tank battles are raging on the streets outside?! what on earth was she thinking? the problem isn't that she made a dumb mistake, it's that the game made no effort to help me understand why she made that dumb mistake. we are given so many clues as to why batman behaves the way he does but when it comes to oracle the game gives us nothing. her mistake just happens to push the plot along.

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Maybe that deserves it's own thread instead?

on that topic though, i remembered this story from GDC: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/03/04/hopi-less-how-kachina-became-donut-county/

Which has some good advice at the end for this thread too

“When you get called out,” Esposito finished, “shut up and listen. Examine your position. Learn from them. Learn to shut up.”

i think the important thing to learn here isn't that "white people can't make games about other cultures because they just don't get it." like, this guy didn't need to give up and just make his game about donuts. he just needed to work with the people and get past the initial frustration by showing that he actually was willing to put in the effort to do it right. there's another game called Never Alone that put much more effort into listening to the community they wanted to make a game about, and the partnership worked out a lot better as a result:

With any creative project in which a group of privileged Westerners look to recount the tales and customs of an indigenous group, there is a risk of caricature, even amiable racism. “We’ve repeatedly seen our culture and stories appropriated and used without our permission or involvement,” Fredeen said. “People were skeptical that the project would turn out like these other examples, all appropriation and Westernization.” To reassure them, the development team assembled a group of Iñupiat elders, storytellers, and artists to become partners in the game’s development and lend their ideas and voices to the venture. “As it became clear to the community that this project was only going to move forward with their active participation, that hesitancy quickly evaporated,” Fredeen said. “We’ve had everybody from eighty-five-year-old elders who live most of the year in remote villages to kids in Barrow High School involved in the project.”

...

For Vesce and the rest of the game’s development team, partnering with amateur game makers was unusually challenging. “To make Never Alone, we had to break from some traditional and fundamental ways of making games and bring the community into the creative process—a community that knew very little about the medium but that had strong thoughts on what they wanted to see in a game based on their culture,” Vesce said. He called this kind of collaboration “inclusive development,” in which each group is a student of the other’s world. “While it’s extremely rewarding, it also requires a huge commitment from all sides to build a foundation of mutual trust and respect.”

Despite the importance of keeping the Iñupiats’ vision for the project, there was no formal approval process during development. “It was more subtle, involving conversations with many different people, soliciting and gauging reactions to ideas, and finding creative solutions to meet both the community’s goals and our goals as game developers,” Vesce said. “When we encountered things that sounded great to us as game developers but didn’t resonate with our community partners, they would often present alternatives that ended up being much more interesting and often more challenging to incorporate.”

(http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/never-alone-video-game-help-preserve-inuit-culture)

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You've got characters like Jade and Alyx Vance who are really great. Almost too great. More characters like this are good but like I don't want that to be the new, different standard we hold female characters to.

I totally agree with the point being made here (that diversity of female representation is super important), but is Alyx really that great from that perspective? She makes cool stuff and is definitely able to shoot monsters, but she always came across as being a fawning sycophant to me - something that feels like it panders to what I seems like the power fantasy of having an apparently powerful woman who still inherently needs protection/approval/saving from/by the player character (the episodes feel like they continue moving her character in this direction).

I don't dislike her character, I just find it hard to see her as being a representation that should be championed as being a strong character to use as an example of progressive representations of women.

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You've got characters like Jade and Alyx Vance who are really great. Almost too great. More characters like this are good but like I don't want that to be the new, different standard we hold female characters to.

I totally agree with the point being made here (that diversity of female representation is super important), but is Alyx really that great from that perspective? She makes cool stuff and is definitely able to shoot monsters, but she always came across as being a fawning sycophant to me - something that feels like it panders to what I seems like the power fantasy of having an apparently powerful woman who still inherently needs protection/approval/saving from/by the player character (the episodes feel like they continue moving her character in this direction).

I don't dislike her character, I just find it hard to see her as being a representation that should be championed as being a strong character to use as an example of progressive representations of women.

Nah, I don't think that's quite a fair analysis of her. I mean, they definitely start moving her in the direction of being affectionate toward Freeman and hinting at an eventual romance with him (but a romance is never depicted or confirmed, let's be clear about that). A couple of last dialogues from Eli in HL2:EP2 has Eli make a couple of comments about how you two are gonna hook up and make babies, and you have his blessing etc, though again that is never depicted or confirmed in any way. I don't think any of that was a really NECESSARY direction for them to go with Alyx, and I agree that she would be just fine or even better without going that direction, but I disagree that this necessarily makes her a fawning damsel. As far as video game romances go, what they did with Alyx was EXTREMELY light and tasteful. I mean, to just point out one thing, you don't even give her lots of presents to raise her romance score so that you can have an awkward mannequin-sex cutscene with her.

It's also true that there are a couple of occasions where you have to save her. There is the part where she gets trapped on the train car and you have to help her out. Then there is the whole thing where she gets attacked by the hunter and you have to help the vorts bring her back to health. (Notably, Freeman also gets attacked and incapacitated by the same hunter and has to be rescued by a passing vort.) But other than that, I can't really think of any other examples. It's important to note that she also saves or assists or protects Freeman in many situations (arguably more often than he does any of those for her), and she also acts independently or saves her own damn self in plenty of situations. If she were just a damsel getting saved/protected all the time, that would be one thing, but I think they make it pretty balanced as far as who is saving/assisting who, so it seems more like cooperation, which is frankly way way way better than the damsel thing and one of the reasons Alyx stands out to me.

The fact that they decided to start hinting at an Alyx/Freeman romance is ultimately okay with me (again, an inevitable relationship is hinted at but never actually takes place). Granted, it does detract from Alyx just being an independent woman to a certain extent, but I think their approach to it was tasteful, and I don't think a romance is strictly problematic.

What IS problematic is that the game industry doesn't also have a female Freeman and a male Alyx Vance so that you can experience that partnership from the female view. But I don't think the fact that Alyx starts growing more warm/affectionate toward Freeman necessarily makes her a weaker female character, and I definitely don't think it makes her a fawning damsel. Being a good female character does not preclude having emotions.

You are the first person I've ever heard describe Alyx as fawning. That's kind of surprising to me, but it does make me stop and consider the romantic hinting in later episodes a little closer.

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I like what Alcoremortis said. It sounds like a reasonable solution to what I want.

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Welp I notice a lot of very strong opinions here already, not that it is too surprising. I've especially seen a lot of insults and demands for people to leave if they don't subscribe to a particular version of feminism (such as the radical second wave-era sex negative equity-centric feminism).

I figure I might as well leave this here in the hope that perhaps people will recognize there is plenty of grey area of a wide range of feminist beliefs that support the idea that a woman can be empowered AND sexualized, and still be seen as feminist media.

http://www.wgac.colostate.edu/sex-positivity

As a third wave sex positive equality-centric feminist myself, I think that sexualization of any gender is not inherently a problem (besides sexualization of minors, of any gender, for any reason). I also think desexualization is not inherently empowering, since sexualization is a real part of the world we live in, and authors should be able to show adversity faced by characters using tools such as sexualization. Context and effect is everything. I also think that disparity of sexualization between men women and non-binary identities does not automatically prove the idea that a decrease in sexualization is a valid response, let alone the only effective response if we are intending to address the issue. Especially when policing of sexualization leads to issues of its own, such as fear of being seen as sexualized and a push to be more conservative in clothing as a result.

Also for those who seem to be throwing gender performance ideas around, confusing gender expression with gender identity as though they are interchangeable, I figure it's also helpful to realize that there is still a very valid discussion to be had on its own about whether the theory, at least applied to identity as opposed to expression, is supported by neurological evidence connecting gender identity with brain development. This evidence includes:

http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jcem.85.5.6564

http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A293407678&v=2.1&u=s8460017&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=07fc9f2c13e03863cf3103e63b286134

http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A200507120&v=2.1&u=s8460017&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=5403b0fc07567505fbe27fe47f72021d

http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A117524890&v=2.1&u=s8460017&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=5868ae83ce42ed0e660cfaba06eca178

http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A245751475&v=2.1&u=s8460017&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=5823d0141c9f6454a2c171840339ca40

That said as a feminist student myself currently taking university courses on the subject, I certainly find the debate of the influence of nature and nurture on gender identity to be fascinating, and look forward to responses to this recent evidence, if anyone is interested in presenting evidence to the contrary.

Also please don't discriminate against people based on their gender identity or sex. We are all affected by gender representation, and all deserve to have a voice in discussing it without having our identity used as a way to validate or invalidate positions. Its essentially creating elitism that leads to people being silenced as a result of their identity being used to attack them or their argument. If we want to stop the shit throwing, that has to include all the sex and gender based discrimination (or as some feminists prefer, "reverse discrimination") being thrown at people in this comment section.

To quote the Guide To Decency:

Tolerate all humans. If you post anything that is racist, sexist, or homophobic, the forums will come alive and bite you on the face. It will hold on tight, no matter how much you scream, and not let go until you tolerate all humanity and promise to change your ways. Then we will let go, but by then it will have laid eggs in your sinus cavities, and if you ever post anything like that again the eggs will hatch, and you will sneeze earwigs for years.

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I'm particularly interested in Cultural Appropriation right now, I understand the argument against it but I also disagree that it's wholesale wrong to tap into cultures you're not apart of for expression, I'm trying to find that line where you're doing something interesting and valuable with somebody else's culture, and where you begin to be insensitive or insulting with your use of it. I'm curious where others stand on this matter.
It can certainly be done well, if you really invest yourself into the culture so that when you put your own spin on it you do so respectfully.

Grim Fandango did this well, and it certainly helped that Hispanic actors were hired for the main roles, and that they helped out with the slang, making it feel a lot more authentic.

On the subject of Grim Fandango and this topic, on the flip side of the hero,

Olivia

was a pretty good example of a strong female video game villain. She seemed quite one dimensional at first, but as the story went on she had a lot more going on than it first seemed. By the end, she was every bit as fearsome as Don Copal himself, while not becoming something cliched like a Disney villain (not that I don't enjoy those too, I just appreciate the more subtle villains more).

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What we need first is *more* female characters. [...] To me, this really demonstrates that the probability of getting interesting characters in a gender directly correlates to the number of individuals representative of the gender.

That would solve so much. If female characters are the norm, if there's no 'token' female character, it's not just that feminist criticism will find their focal points dispersed. I also have high hopes that the Angry Jacks who are "all for diversity in games" but would rather cut "SJW influence" out with a chainsaw will find less to focus on. It's the one sole unmatched central can-do-everything-knows-it-all woman that draws their ire in particular. And that woman of course is lazy writing – of course, just as much as the male counterpart, which doesn't seem to draw any ire at all. :)

As to more of my personal positive female characters... uhm... anyone of you still familiar with this woman, or are you too young...?

fbf3817e9eb4a84626d82805e46e2c64_char_rho.jpg

She's... not particularly on the 'nice' spectrum, I tell yas. :)

And, of course, I attempted to fan art her as well.

5ef1083e29f9c1d19ccd847b75cf3382_Anachronox_sketches_May14_rhocut.jpg

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I'm not sure I see any evidence for sex-negative feminism here,

One point I was going to make before that guy carl was arguing with bailed out was about his belief that "this kind of hyper sensibility will negatively effect everybody in the long run." Feminism is a big enough thing that you are going to find some feminists who are fine with the sexy version of the pirate character. Both viewpoints have merit.

Also, regarding the idea of performativity I didn't mean to imply that it's not possible for neurological/biological factors to exist. There's still a lot we don't understand about the brain.

I agree to a point where it concerns gender and sexual identity where it concerns this topic, largely because this topic is bigger than just women's rights, there's a ton of spectrums to consider and weigh, and a endless number of theories about them, but there does need to be an acknowledgement as well that privileged people do exist, and whether they asked for or are aware of that privilege when they come in here or not isn't really the issue, the issue is that minority voices, the people who would benefit most from a revolution in how our culture thinks about these topics, are the ones with the experience to speak about these problems, and it's up to those with privilege to cede to them, listen and empathize, so that everyone can get on the same page.

I think this is something I'm concerned about too. Intersectionality is the nice word for the idea that all those other spectrums affect feminism. How does the experience of a feminist differ based on race or class? Like, it's great that we want to move towards the idea of sex-positivity, but what about people who don't have as much control over whether or not they are sexualized? A rich white woman at harvard has a lot more control over how she is treated than a poor woman who needs to put up with a sexist boss to make ends meet. Permafry's link hinges everything on the notion of "explicit consent," but it's not always as simple as yes and no. Some of those other factors (class, cultural/religious expectations, education, etc.) can influence people to rationalize saying yes in cases where if they had more educational opportunities or economic freedom they might have said no. Or vice versa, there might be people say no when if they had had the time and money to go digest some feminist theory they would say yes because they no longer feel beholden to the prudish standards imposed upon them. So if we move from a paradigm where sexualization is a tool of oppression to one where it is sometimes harmful and sometimes liberating, then it's going to be the people with the most power, privilege and education who are the most empowered to decide when they're comfortable with it and when they're not.

My personal opinion is that I don't like the idea of sex. I wouldn't describe myself as asexual or as a prude, but I don't like sex because on a biological level I don't fully control it. I didn't choose to experience sexual desire. Nature, or God, imposed it upon me. I take full responsibility for how I act on that sexual desire, but just because I am stuck with it doesn't mean I have to rationalize it as a good thing. That's called Stockholm Syndrome. (cue that jpeg of Adam Jensen saying "I never asked for this")

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Re: that bit about appropriation, be it cultural or something else, something I read a few weeks back put it best I think (paraphrased a bunch because it came from a long back and forth across several blogs):

"Yes, absolutely include PoC/disabled/queer/etc. characters in your story. More characters and representation is better, and helping raise the visibility of those groups is good if you're in a position of privilege to do so. But don't write a story about what it's like to be any of those things, if you're not any of those things. At best, it's inauthentic, and at worst damaging to the very people you'd hope to help"

Also @permafry because lol I know what I'm about son, I know exactly what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. It's not "sex-negativity" alright. I don't believe sexualization = disempowerment. But I absolutely don't believe a sexualized female character is empowered, or is supposed to make me feel empowered, if they were specifically designed that way. They don't have the agency to make that choice, to say they dress that way because it makes them feel good, and they never will.

So is sexualization in female video game characters always a bad thing? No, I don't think so but you really can't ignore that sexualized female characters is kind of a big trend in almost all forms of media and it's one I'm not particularly happy with.

Is it empowering? Hell no, and it never will be. Ever.

Also no, I really don't care about what that guy I was arguing with had to say if he wants to preface it with "Hmmph so you DON'T want to convince me about why I should think feminism is a valid thing" because those are almost always the people who are already convinced otherwise and don't have a real desire to learn so I'm not gonna waste my time with them. It's not something I can hope to achieve on my own, and something I SHOULDN'T be expected to do, to have like all of feminism resting on my shoulders on whether I can convince this one guy who's already made up his mind that he'd rather not know. I do not care about having those voices included, because they make it clear they don't want to be included but put the onus on everyone else to make them feel welcome anyway.

Like why bother with those people? You didn't wanna come to my house but call me a bad host for not inviting you?? What the fuck am I supposed to do about that

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Also I just had this thought: I would probably be WAY more happy with sexualized female characters if they wore something believably sexy

As in something an actual woman would wear when she wanted to feel sexy. Something that is sexy from the female perspective. Possibly something from current fashion trends. Instead we get boob window garbage

You see anyone wearing a dang boob window anything??? No, they're wearing cute crop tops and cotton leggings. Denim shorts with a wide neck sweater. Sweetheart neckline sundresses. But you don't see any of that cuz no one designing female characters actually cares to look at how actual women dress

Actually I would love to see that in a female character: a character that is the embodiment of the tumblr trash aesthetic, the sweaters, the stupid meme accessories, fandom shirts, the ombre tights and mermaid colored hair, the oversized hipster glasses and tattoos and piercings everywhere. Something that is exclusively attractive to young women, and is marketed as sexy. And isn't a caricature used to mock and insult women who like 'trendy' things.

Now THAT I find empowering.

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Re: that bit about appropriation, be it cultural or something else, something I read a few weeks back put it best I think (paraphrased a bunch because it came from a long back and forth across several blogs):

"Yes, absolutely include PoC/disabled/queer/etc. characters in your story. More characters and representation is better, and helping raise the visibility of those groups is good if you're in a position of privilege to do so. But don't write a story about what it's like to be any of those things, if you're not any of those things. At best, it's inauthentic, and at worst damaging to the very people you'd hope to help"

I'm not entirely sure how you can even write a story featuring a group that you are not a part of without at least touching on what it's like to be one of them. At that point, it almost sounds like the only recourse is to never write diverse characters or to remove all aspects of those characters that makes them diverse except for the most superficial elements, essentially white-washing them... which I feel is going very much the wrong direction.

It really seems like the statement is more, "Yes, we want more diverse characters, sure you can write them, but don't try to give them too much character, because you'd f*ck it up."

Personally, I think that writers should be allowed to "f*ck it up" more. How on earth can we ever have more visibility of marginalized groups in fiction if writers in "positions of privilege" are too terrified of making a mistake to even give it a shot (especially because the people most scared of messing it up are likely the ones that would put the most care into creating such characters in the first place)? This is the same thing I was saying on the last page. They might receive some flack for having a stable full of grizzled white male characters, but since that's considered the norm, nobody will give it more than a passing sneer. Get one minority group character wrong and twitter will be eating your liver morning, noon, and night like a modern day Prometheus remake. And it doesn't even need to be wrong wrong, either. All it takes is for a bit of dialogue to be feasibly misinterpreted by people with poor reading comprehension and you might as well jump into a wolf pit while covered in bloody steaks.

Writers should be criticized, by all means, but I think it's short-sighted to ban certain topics from the get-go. Sure, a straight white guy writing about the plight of a gay black woman probably will get a lot of things wrong. Possibly everything wrong. But this is where the dialogue starts. Someone taking the plunge and getting everything wrong is the place where we can then talk about why they got it wrong. What miscommunications do we have in our society where this hypothetical writer wasn't able to empathize properly with his creation? And then the next one will be better.

Or we can just complain about there not being enough writers properly qualified with their birth certificate to write about these topics and nothing every changes and nobody understands each other.

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Well I mean like... if someone included a Malay character in one of their novels, but left out everything about 'what it means to be a Malay person', and wrote them as just a person, my first thought would probably be "Hey, wow! They included a Malay person in their story. I didn't think anyone even knew we existed!!!"

Because just that little bit of acknowledgement is enough for me. Even the superficial parts, like describing the school uniforms here would mean more to me in that instance, just because someone noticed. Like yes, there are certain very Malay experiences that might shape that character's outlook, but not so much to the point that they are unrelatable as just a person.

I couldn't tell you where the influence of growing up Malay vs the influence of growing up and being seen as white starts and ends, and how those things shape my outlook, so it'd be a little insulting to me, if someone who had neither of those things tried to tell me my business.

Edit: My internet cut out while I was submitting this post and it looks like it left out some things. I can't remember it all now but it was something along the lines of not trying to write a character's experience and background so extensively to the point of it being a caricature or stereotype, because without those lived experiences that's what it becomes, and actually making it even more alienating than if you had just written them as a person, who also happened to be PoC/disabled/queer/etc. cuz you gotta remember they're people first and foremost and it goes a long way just depicting them that way

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As a third wave sex positive equality-centric feminist myself, I think that sexualization of any gender is not inherently a problem (besides sexualization of minors, of any gender, for any reason). I also think desexualization is not inherently empowering, since sexualization is a real part of the world we live in, and authors should be able to show adversity faced by characters using tools such as sexualization. Context and effect is everything. I also think that disparity of sexualization between men women and non-binary identities does not automatically prove the idea that a decrease in sexualization is a valid response, let alone the only effective response if we are intending to address the issue. Especially when policing of sexualization leads to issues of its own, such as fear of being seen as sexualized and a push to be more conservative in clothing as a result.

Hi Permafry! I'm glad you brought this up, since having this view of feminism taught to me was one of the most eye-opening lessons I learned on the way to where I am now. I am fortunate enough to be friends with this really amazing lady (who is also degree-carrying feminist and super active at conferences for women's rights issues, ect): a married mother who moved to the mainland from Hawaii and is a native/ethnic Hawaiian. One of the things she brings with her from her Hawaiian culture is belly dancing. Belly dancing is mostly associated with sexy dancing anymore, and it IS sometimes for that, but she also taught me that it's also for spiritual reasons, or maternal reasons, or health reasons, or any number of other things. But as far as doing it in a sexy way, she taught me that just because a woman is performing a dance that is sexy, she is not necessarily degrading herself. She might even be celebrating and empowering herself. Women have a sexuality that is distinct from male sexuality, and it is okay to embrace that, and to celebrate it, and to be empowered by it. Sexuality is a kind of power, just like physical strength or intelligence or wealth or social status are a kind of power.

Which brings me to one of the most divisive female characters in feminist terms. I've read opinions of feminists who love her and of feminists who despise her to hell:

Bayo-bayonetta-bust.jpg

Is Bayonetta an object to be oggled? Or is she a female character who celebrates her own sexuality and uses it as power?

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Is Bayonetta an object to be oggled? Or is she a female character who celebrates her own sexuality and uses it as power?

Well for starters she was designed by a woman.

anyway can't say anymore I'm off to Antman

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I don't believe sexualization = disempowerment. But I absolutely don't believe a sexualized female character is empowered, or is supposed to make me feel empowered, if they were specifically designed that way. They don't have the agency to make that choice, to say they dress that way because it makes them feel good, and they never will.

Help me to understand your belief on this then, because you lost me when you were talking about how you don't believe it is disempowerment but you believe it "never will" be empowerment. From my view those are contradictory statements, but I'm interested to hear your thoughts; particular after your second comment.

I should also be clear that being a sex positive feminist doesn't mean i believe sexualization isn't an issue in gaming. To the contrary it can be extremely damaging when it is done thoughtlessly. I still believe Bayonetta is a better example of a sex positive feminist character design though since she is portrayed as being sexual for her own enjoyment through her character development, which is very different from character models thoughtlessly sexualized as a primarily commodity-based decision ie mobas and other games when there isn't enough character development for there to be proper context to explain why the character is sexualized and how the positively benefits the player.

Race and nationality is certainly complicated issues in their own right (perhaps we should create a new thread to discuss these issues there as was previously suggested by Spaff?), but I think a relevant part of the discussion is this: if Carl is right and talking about a race or nationality in art always requires lived contact and personal experience with the source of the subject matter (beyond just association through research of the subject), would that mean historic stories about long past eras of history without living witnesses will always be inherently problematic? Since if so that would mean some of the most culturally significant works ever made are inherently racist/promote misinformed ideas. I think that in theory speaking to live witnesses is an important part of appropriation when it is possible, but i don't believe that it is impossible to positively speak about a race or nationality or gender experience that one does not have themself.

Also you seem to have described me using the phrase "son" even though you have no idea who I am or what my background is. Thanks for helping me win a bet *knowingly winks at Fhqwhgads*

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Also you seem to have described me using the phrase "son" even though you have no idea who I am or what my background is. Thanks for helping me win a bet *knowingly winks at Fhqwhgads*

Not that I disagree with any of the discussion you’ve been contributing up to this point, but thaaaat little line is coming off as a dis on Carl and, additionally throwing fire on a thing that was supposed to die with the previous thread by essentially admitting that you entered this thread with some kind of agenda against her.

You can disagree with Carl or think whatever you want about her, but there is no need for secret plans or making secret bets about her character. To me, this looks more bad on you than it does on Carl.

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Also you seem to have described me using the phrase "son" even though you have no idea who I am or what my background is. Thanks for helping me win a bet *knowingly winks at Fhqwhgads*

Not that I disagree with any of the discussion you've been contributing up to this point, but thaaaat little line is coming off as a dis on Carl and, additionally throwing fire on a thing that was supposed to die with the previous thread by essentially admitting that you entered this thread with some kind of agenda against her.

You can disagree with Carl or think whatever you want about her, but there is no need for secret plans or making secret bets about her character. To me, this looks more bad on you than it does on Carl.

Okay I'm typing up the rest of my response right now, trying to find the right words to express what I feel but before this gets away:

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Pretty sure that it's just a reference to how some people tend to automatically assume people on forums are guys unless told otherwise. I do it - I don't mean anything bad by it, but I do tend to just assume people online are males - which is why I tend to use gender-neutral phrases (in case you ever wondered). Pretty sure that's all it meant.

Unless it was some secret neo-Nazi agenda, which would be a totally bad thing.

Either way, reminder to behave.

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I think we can go without any kind of knowing winks at the guy with the anti feminist #wrongskin twitter harrassment campaign avatar, thank you VERY much.

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