Social Question

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Sexy video game girls: Harmless fantasy fun or exploitation of women?

Asked by Captain_Fantasy (11431points) February 16th, 2010

Take Bayonetta for example.

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26 Answers

Violet's avatar

((rolls eyes)) It’s a video game…

bhec10's avatar

I think Sheva Alomar looks better :-)

mzehnich's avatar

I’m not sure why Bayonetta has become such a target of exploitation claims. In my opinion she is probably one of the better examples of women as represented in games; she comes off as powerful and elegant to me, whereas as a character like Lara Croft makes me feel as if she is being portrayed as a sex symbol purely for marketing (which, sadly, seemed to have worked… I never saw the appeal of the Tomb Raider series, yet it is still alive and kicking).

BhacSsylan's avatar

It can work both ways, as can most things. In many video games, such as Dead or Alive Beach Vollyball, you can’t possibly make an argument to say it’s not exploitation. Heck, in the last one’s trailer they get about two seconds away from a lesbian scene on the beach. However, it can also be done very, very well, and while I haven’t played Bayonetta, this article makes a very good case for it as being harmless and rather uplifting. Written by a woman, too, and that helps.

And an interesting piece by Tycho from Penny Arcade about the same subject: “When you look at something like Marcus Fenix, and I said something as opposed to someone on purpose, there is the same exaggeration that borders on mutation in his physical structure. But since Marcus Fenix is a man, his physical virtues are an acceptable template for such extrapolations. If a woman is the subject, and is thus interpreted, now you’re engaged in a truly dangerous enterprise. There’s something very strange simmering below that assertion, and it’s weirding me out.”

ragingloli's avatar

No worse than sexy women in movies.
Porn games, on the other hand…

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

Rubi from WET is my favorite female character. I just had to say that. Some games do exploit women but others make them into pure bad asses.

kheredia's avatar

Guys will be guys. They are extremely visual beings and if they need the visual effect in order to enjoy the game then so be it. I’m not going to get mad at my boyfriend for staring at a cartoon’s ass all night. It’s a video game for heaven sake!!!

syzygy2600's avatar

Have you ever seen what most men in videogames look like? Muscular, often shirtless? I don’t want my son thinking he has to obtain that type of body in order to be appealing to women!......

…..actually, I don’t give a shit because its a frickin videogame.

avengerscion's avatar

generally harmless, but i dislike it nonetheless

borderline_blonde's avatar

I don’t find it offensive, and I’m a female gamer. Hey, they make plenty of the male characters look ridiculously perfect. Besides, at least those scantily clad females are typically kicking just as much ass as the boys are.

Steve_A's avatar

Whatever sells my friend, whatever sells.

Berserker's avatar

Meh, it’s entertainment. There’s a fine line between fiction and reality and video games aren’t to blame for those who don’t see it.

wundayatta's avatar

What’s exploitation? Are the violent video games exploitation of men? Or people?

And what is “harmless” fantasy fun? People are always worried that fantasy will warp people’s real life behavior. So, do game players who shoot a lot of people also end up wanting to shoot people in real life? Do players who ravage fantasy women in a video game end up treating real life women the same way?

Look. It’s life. People think a lot of stupid shit. People do all kinds of stupid shit. I don’t think the presence or absence of media or various stories is going to change that. Only education and life experience can make people behave in a nicer way.

Fantasy is going to be there no matter what. The trick is making sure anti-social behavior doesn’t end up in real life. That depends on the person, not on the media.

Berserker's avatar

@wundayatta Word.
A SHITLOAD of people play video games. If they really influenced people like some think, we’d all be killing one another downtown.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

It’s a bit of both but I think there’s more serious exploitation of women we have to worry about, rather than video games. I’m a girl gamer and it’s never really bothered me, for whatever reason. Maybe because it’s a fantasy for the women too – you get to be a sexy, ass-kicking chick. In some games, it’s clearly blatant however.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Some people will see it as harmless and some will see it as exploitation – technically no human beings are exploited but it’s a representation that might be read as cliche by some – I can’t really see other than her original pic and I like the image but I’m sure some of the claims of exploitation have value and some don’t.

ratboy's avatar

If cartoon characters believe that they are exploited, they are free to file complaints with the EEOC.

ChaosCross's avatar

It honestly can seem a bit excessive at times, (IE: Ivy from soul caliber) but it is understandable when you take into account who is making the game and what audience it is targeted to.

It is not a big deal with me really, same general thing as with the movies. In all honesty I would love the next blockbuster game to have an unattractive female who only gets by on their personal qualities, but I doubt that will actually be happening.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@ChaosCross There are actually a decent number of these (though maybe not as many as the bimbo counterpart). Alyx Vance from HL2 and Jane from Beyond Good and Evil are two I can think of off the top of my head. Though not unattractive, they’re not exactly sex icons. Well, not in terms of ‘proportions’, so to speak. In the words of Spike from Cowboy Bebop, “I like a woman who can kick my ass”.

Berserker's avatar

@ChaosCross Ivy is representative of ambition, arrogance and determination, as well as cruelty inspired by having an asshole of a dad and being a product of her times. Or something.
Needless to say, I totally agree that they mighta went overboard with her design, but I think it excellently fits her personality. If people want games to be taken seriously, sometimes they have to add deep shit in there, Even if it’s a fighting game and one obvious way to do it is through design.
I don’t know if that made any sense, but yeah, Ivy, own. XD

qashqai's avatar

Raise your hand if you don’t like sexy girls.

(hands down)

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I am not a gamer but from what I’ve seen and heard many of these games while playing on feminine sexuality/sensuality depict strong, independent, capable female archetypes.

Since the characters are not humans, there can be no actual exploitation of any women.

Those who find these games distasteful should not play them or approve them for use by their young children.

I can’t confirm that such games are harmless because they do desensitize people to depictions of violence in a sexually charged context.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I would much rather see a Lara Croft type character than a woman in a Burqua!

I don’t have a problem with either (providing it is the womans personal choice) but if we are talking about which is more empowering for women then I have to go with Lara Croft.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m slightly bias seeing as I am in love with Angelina Jolie and I really don’t want to see her in a Burqua!!!

wundayatta's avatar

There are studies that link use of violent video games to more hostile behavior in adolescents.

This review of the literature about sex and violence in video games has this to say:

Sexual imagery in video games can also be significantly impactful, especially in shaping gender roles and identities. Many video games portray men and women in such a “characteristically stereotypical” manner that “girls may expect that they will continue to be victims and needy and that their responsibilities include maintaining beauty and sexual appeal while boys may determine that their role is to protect and defend women and to possessive them even through the use of violence” (Dietz, 1998, p. 426). Reinforcing these portrayals through play can “adversely affect the ability of women to ever attain gender equality with men” and hinder “male-female interaction” within mainstream society (Dietz, 1998, p. 439–440).

Other articles claimed these relationships are not as strong as first thought, so I am reserving judgment about this 1998 paper.

It’s all interesting. I don’t know if it amounts to “exploitation” except to the degree that any image is exploited to sell stuff.

@Leanne1986 They’ve named a phenomenon about Lara Croft. Quoting from this lit review:

However, recently a new trend called “Lara phenomenon” emerges, which refers to “the appearance of a tough and competent female character in a dominant position” (Jansz & Martis, 2007, p.142). Jansz and Martis’ (2007) content analyzed the introductory sequence of 12 selective contemporary video games. Introductory sequence refers to a noninteractive introductory sequence for a computer or video game to create a cinematic atmosphere or to introduce the background story of the game before actual game playing starts. This dozen of console games were popular story-line games with diverse characters. Characters’ roles (e.g., villain or helper) and their position (e.g., dominant or submissive) were used as the principle categories in their content analysis. “Lara phenomenon” was observed: female characters in a leading role appeared as often as male did. However, these female characters were portrayed in a stereotypical way: female features were exaggerated by sexy attire and thin body.

There’s all kinds of evidence out there that media images influence body images of women. Video games are certainly media.

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