The USS Quad Damage

Another round of girl bashing

I pick on girls because I'm too much of a wuss to pick on guys. Either that or I'm too much of a man, take your pick (but if you pick the latter, you're a sick fuck. Remember: Violence against women - Australia says no!).

I'm reading an issue of the escapist. I'm upto issue 17, and I'm reading "cover to cover" (as in, 1 through to current), I hope to catch up one day, but currently the magazine produces more content than I can read. It's getting to the stage where that content is getting predictable, but there's still enough in it for me to push on. The magazine is interesting enough that the issue about women in games kind of got me a little pissed.

See, when I think about gender equality, I always think about that comedian who said something like "women think they can pick and choose their rights and responsibilities when it comes to equality". It was funny when he said it. Anyway, that really rang true with this edition. Basically, the first article says things about how games aren't usually rigged for girls, because girls are wired to gather rather than hunt, and "social reasoning" is more important than "ubermicro".

I agree with this point on some levels. I mean, in the sense that we need more sports games and FPSes because it suits the male demographic. See, there's women in two senses, just as there's men in two senses. We can talk about women proper, like the air-headed blonde bimbos who haven't touched a console in their lives, or men proper, like the jocks who only have an Xbox in their dorm room so they can play Halo 2 and Madden 200X. In order to "attract" the "female demographic" we need more "games" that deal with "social reasoning".

Despite the fact that this may well be "necessary" for the "success" of the "gaming industry", I don't give a fuck about either group. So the bit we agree upon is sorta moot.

I disagree with this point on other levels, and the disagreement is with the paradox it creates with the rest of the issue. See, the rest of the magazine spends an inordate time pushing the point that female gamers can "pwn" at games like Halo and Mario Kart (or whatever). Well if they're the same as us gamer guys, they must enjoy the games they play, right? See, if gamers see themselves as different from normal people, then female gamers, being gamers, must be happy with the current state of gaming. No "social reasoning", they seem to be having plenty of fun playing man-games. Aren't we discouraging this band of hardcore gamer girls by selling copies of "bratz"? I mean, there's even a girl discouraging it's distribution towards the end!

Even if "social reasoning" was why women aren't playing games, this doesn't explain why girls aren't playing more adventure games like "the curse of monkey island"? I mean, all you do is talk! Guybrush has long hair, he's practically a girl, and there's a strong female personality throughout the series (his girlfriend and later his wife). WTF?

So we come to the second article which argues there aren't any female rolemodels in games, and survival horror gives a positive feminine persona in the monster rather than the main characters. She argues this is because games are marketed towards men. Women take up three positions in the article: The useless woman, the heroine, and the monster.

It's pretty clear why Bonnie Ruberg (the author) has issues with the useless woman. First, the useless woman is pretty, and second, she's useless, like a trophy. She's something that must be protected by the "man", and she's clingy and annoying. Point well taken, but even Bonnie admits that it's scarier having to protect something than being a badass mercenary on your own. The alternative she suggests is kinda sorta retarded: Why not have a strong confidant woman defending a trophy guy.

Here's the reason why: Nobody cares if a trophy guy dies. This is something women in general I think don't understand. No matter how pretty the guy, when the chips are down, no matter whether you're a guy or a girl, if there's a pretty-boy who can't defend himself, you won't protect him. What kind of man doesn't know how to defend himself against an onslaught of undead minions? No kind of man, just some pathetic retard.

Then she goes on to the heroines, and basically mentions Jill Valentine straight off the bat. The complaint? This one has to be quoted:
Yet even such seemingly empowered female characters come with ambiguous implications. While their presence does speak to certain pro-gender equality ideals - more representation of capable women in games, more opportunities to play as women - their submissive relationship to interactivity puts them once again at the mercy of male gamers.

Men, as the ones most often holding the controllers, exercise control over playable female characters, redistributing the power balance in favor of the male. And while there's something innately sadistic about this interaction, there's also something highly voyeuristic. Male gamers often claim to enjoy playing as women, not because they are interested in stepping into their shoes, but because it gives them a chance to stare at attractive female characters.
OK, once you stop "WTF"ing on me, let's try and figure out what her delicately put 2 paragraphs is trying to say: Because men are playing as these girls, they must be sex objects. I think that pretty much covers it. When you put it in a sentence, the point isn't all that forceful, is it?

So if I perve at a girl, she becomes a whore? I wonder if that'll work in court.

As weak as this point is, and as infuriated as it made me, I went on, and I think I got it in the end. She was only really trying to textually downplay the importance of the female heroine so she could get to her point about the female monster. See, she's a writer, and writers have this nasty habit of substituting the truth for something that fits so they can get to the point. Basically, she likes female monsters because female monsters are scarier than male monsters.

You see, men apparently don't want to shoot female zombies. It irks them, and it's creepier than shooting a male zombie. I mean, it'd feel a little unchivalrous, right? I mean, they're ugly, and an ugly woman is really quite creepy, more so than an ugly man, right? I mean, whenever you shoot a female monster in a game don't you feel somehow different? no? Me neither.

What about sexually aroused? Another WTF moment:
The woman monster stands as well outside the normal sexual boundaries of complacent femininity. In her undeniable association with death, she exudes sexual energy - two forces that are inextricably linked in the human mind - and introduces a dynamic of sexuality into situations where none existed previously. Before the gamer, she is a sexual predator. She is a zombie, in more ways than one, in that she is untamed in her desire for the consumption of flesh. This threat of sexual dominance is, perhaps subconsciously, as frightening to the gamer as the literal threat of in-game death. At the same time, the sexual interplay her presence creates makes the situation at hand more intimate, implicating the player to a higher degree in the extreme violence at hand, and therefore making his own actions terrifying.

So there's this female zombie, and while it's true that most men would totally hit that, because men would totally hit pretty much anything, the thing we're worried about is not that she's going to bite off our face, rather that she's going to be "on top" as it were. That's what we're worried about...

So, I don't agree with her monster point either, but what was it that stopped me from being so infuriated at the heroine part? The thing is, the article is constructed around logic, but based on feelings. She said all that crap, but what she really meant was something like "for some reason, I don't know what, I can't relate to the damsels and heroines, but I can relate to the monsters". The article was an attempt to explain why.

I think I figured out why: She's a gamer. She's a freak of nature. She's not like other girls. It's kind of annoying to have a damsel in the game, because that's not her. Imagine being a guy and having to protect a pretty boy: "I screw totally hot chicks all the time, and you have to protect me here, because I'm totally fucking useless". Now imagine that girls who play this game totally want to protect this guy. I mean, it'd be irritating having to protect him, and irritating thinking of all the girls who play this game who actually want to protect this totally useless piece of shit. I think she maybe feels the same way about the damsel. Bonnie's not pretty and useless, she's capable and intelligent.

Having said that, she's probably not navy seal material. This is why the heroines don't appeal to her either. They're either pretty, or sporty, or both. They're there so men perve on them (even if they're good role models), and that's irritating, because they're not perving on her. She has to be in the body and mind of a character she despises. She sees herself in the monster, though. She wants to take a chunk out of the guy, and screw him while he's down, and be on top. She'd be all like "yeah, bitch, I killed your stupid damsel, and I'm going to fuck your brains out, and then EAT EM!".

That's rape -- Violence against men, Australia says no?

Note: Incidentally, if Bonnie ever reads this, I'm totally in for everything but the brain eating.