“Secondly, the trend may shift from only sexualising females. Anyone see the new Bond, Skyfall? The first scene with the villain includes a very camp Javier Bardem feeling up an uncomfortable Daniel Craig. Would this scene have EVER been put in Sean Connery’s films all those years ago? Nope. In the changing word today, gay marriage is being legalised, there are homosexual leads – it’s being accepted. Quite frankly, the only reason only females are sexualised in games is because there is a stigma against homosexual male characters! But if games are heading the way of the movies, and with more story-driven gameplay, they most certainly are, then it is not unfathomable to think in the next few years we could see EVERYONE getting sexualised!”
(from a comment on this article)
This paragraph is sort of strange, and it reminds me of an anecdote I read on an author’s blog once. She came across a negative review of her book on a site that expressed distaste at the way the book “promoted homosexuality”. Baffled, because there was no such content in the book, she got in touch with the writer of the comment to discuss his view. The conversation eventually revealed that the concept of the female gaze was so foreign to him that when a male was described in sexual, or even sensual, terms, his automatic assumption was that there was something gay going on. Apparently the writer of this comment suffers from the same problem. You see, even though far more straightwomen than gay men play video games, we can’t possibly have a male character be sexualised unless it’s for the appreciation of gay male gamers. Because it’s more socially acceptable to market to the horniness of gay men than for straight women, or something.*
On a note that may be related only by virtue of also being discussed in that article in the comments, I’m not really sure that “offensive” is the right word to describe my feelings about the prevalence of sexual assault in not just video games, but pop culture in general as well. As a mostly female-perceived person it definitely makes me uncomfortable. As a writer and a reader it’s sometimes just plain boring. It’s a lazy shorthand to show or prove that a character is evil. Rape is bad = only bad people rape = this character is bad, so he should try to rape someone. But there are plenty of other, and often better, ways to show that. Hell, you can have a “bad” character who refuses to sully himself by touching a member of some outside group in that manner (for characters in cults or racial gangs, etc) – it’s still misogynistic, but on a different level to the casual assumption that if there’s a bad guy around, women gonna get raped. It’s individualised misogyny, the idea of this character that an “outsider” woman has the ability to dirty him – not an idea shared by everyone playing the game or watching the movie. Or you could have a character more into psychological shit who prefers to leave his captives waiting and imagining what might happen to them. Or maybe, harming the captives just isn’t part of the plan. They’re there for a reason – ransom, to prevent them from taking action against the villains, to coerce them into performing some particular task, etc – and pointless violence against them risks retaliatory violence on a larger scale from their allies which the villains have decided is better to avoid.
And that’s just in games that take place in a semi-realistic world where, yes, rape and sexual assault are pretty much endemic. In games in other genres, though, they don’t have to be. You’re making up a world with, I don’t know, magic and dinosaurs and different political systems, but it’s just too much work to imagine a different dynamic between the sexes than the one you were brought up with? Yeah, I’m calling bullshit on the idea that it’s “just realism” there, bud. That’s not realism, that’s laziness and the inability to think about the world from a point of view that isn’t mired in rape culture and male dominance.
*Note: I’m not explicitly including bisexual peeps since they’re, in the minds of people who think the treatment of women in video games is universally regarded as sexual, already catered for in some way.