Hey, sexism!

| Wednesday, April 25, 2012
This post is being written by someone who has just finished an excessively-important paper about patent law, a subject about which I know little and am not expected to know much, and yet was supposed to improve, which I did because I'm just that awesome.  Also it's a bit late.  And I have an exam tomorrow.  Plus the take-home due the next day.  So why am I writing this?  Because I am vaguely annoyed about an issue and by God, I am going to make you vaguely annoyed as well, if only about the post.

So, the womenfolk have gotten it into their heads that there's some sort of problem with their representation in gaming.  It seems that pretty often, they are presented as sexy, and that's about all they are.  Thin women with big tits and not too much clothing to cloud judgement seems to be the way to go.  By cloud judgement I mean the way clouds obscure vision and make it harder to judge people.  I'd hate to be blind and go through life with that added barrier to objectification.  I'd need to grope women just to get a general idea and they'd just get more angry if I said I was trying to objectify them.  Whiners.

But I was thinking, is it really all that sexy to have these strangely shameless women running about in high heels and a few bits of cloth?  I think I'd find them a bit frightening.  What other social norms are they lacking?  People don't normally dress like that in public or for battle.  If they can do that, maybe they also think fights to the death are the appropriate way to say "good morning", like they do in Japan, as best as I can tell.  Thankfully, I've never been to Japan because then I'd end up dead or aware of my own ignorance and neither of those sound very good.

You know who's sexy?  That Alyx Vance.  She's almost like a person.  She cries when her dad dies, like a person would.  She has an adorable childhood pet robot which can throw armored cars, like an awesome person would.  She made it herself.  She cares about other people, but doesn't get all weepy and break down at the slightest sign of danger.  She's no damsel in distress.  Personally, I find that a bit sexy.  And I'd love to see that more often.

But speaking of seeing that more often, what does she wear?  Jeans, a t-shirt, and a jacket.  Not a lot of skin showing there.  Her hair is short.  This is not to suggest that she is unattractive.  She's thin and has a nice face, to the extent that computer-generated graphics can give the impression of a nice face.  But she's not nothing but that.  Her portrayal in the games and media is what we'd expect of a person who has survived a terrible life: slightly distressed, but determined, and usually pointing a gun at something.

This is the same set of games where the protagonist is a physicist who saves the world with the help of other physicists, a rocket scientist, and a semi-sentient robotic dog.  This is a game which is clearly made for by and about geeks.  If there is any game where attractive women would be expected to be stripping for the hero, this is it.  After all, this is a game where we're the heroes, us socially-withdrawn geeks, and who among us would not opt for the occasional uh.. hero's welcome?  But no, that's not what happens.  Instead the female character has to go and be a person.  It sets a dangerous standard!  If the geeky game for geeks can have female persons, could it spread?

 It would be nice if it did.

I tend to play female characters in WoW.  I prefer the appearance, though it does make it harder to identify as the character.  I don't mind skimpy armor as something which exists.  If someone else wants to play naked Barbie, that's their choice.  I prefer more clothing.  For this, transmogrification has been a boon.

I am tireder now and will leave you with this incomplete post.  But isn't it always incomplete?  Of course.  Only you can add in the misinterpretations and reactionary comments.

[edit] Edited for Alyx


Ephemeron said...

"...patent law, a subject about which I know little and am not expected to know much..."

Next time, just ask your loyal reader base for help! After all, you've got at least one patent attorney reading your blog on a daily basis.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...


Sexism in video games wasn't something I really took a personal offense with until I started playing SWTOR(I mean I noticed it, just not to the point of it making the story seem less attractive). With the male NPCs you’ll see short, tall, skinny, fat, old, ugly, dumb sounding, smart sounding and everything in-between as you go on about your travels...but the female NPCs? 99% have a 20inch waist with Double D boobs, a pretty face, with an overly attractive voice over. The remaining 1% still have the same body proportions and voices but just have an old lady face. For me it seems like cheap story presentation and cut corners because most males don’t give a shit. And I can imagine that a large number of female players are not very entertained with it and with good reason.

Klepsacovic said...

@Ephemeron: In 2016 the pharmaceutical transition period for developing countries will run out, making it more difficult for them to import or create generic versions of patented drugs. Have any opinions?

@JoeNavy: I've also noticed that when men are sexualized, it tends to be for comedic purpose, rather than for the sexy itself. For example, anything involving gnomes.

Ephemeron said...

From a theoretical viewpoint, it's a good thing. Any step towards harmonization of law, especially in such a inconsistent field as patent law, is generally considered to be beneficial. The more unified the rules become, and the fewer exception they have, the better. Furthermore, it's in line with prior IP conventions, which had similar grace periods for developing countries (and as far as I know, nothing particularly disastrous happened when said periods expired).

From a practical viewpoint, it's just another step in the never-ending power struggle between 'Big Pharma' companies (aka "evil godless corporations draining all money and hope from poor defenseless patients") and generic medicine manufacturers (aka "jackals and hyenas shamelessly stealing others' multi-billion research to peddle dangerous untested pills to the gullible"). Both sides have legions of journalists, lobbyists and "experts" that constantly demonize the other party and paint their own employers as saviors of humankind. This is handy for writing research papers on the subject, as there's plenty of arguments supporting either side, but makes finding a truely unbiased viewpoint all but impossible, since practically everyone in this field (including yours truly) has a vested interest of some sort.

Klepsacovic said...

I focused mostly on the tradeoff between dispersal and research: looser laws get cheap medicines out there, but too loose and research wouldn't be profitable anymore, making everyone worse off in the long run.

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