S.EXE: Increpare’s Striptease (NSFW)

By Cara Ellison on May 9th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

Today’s sex and/or relationship game is Increpare‘s puzzle game Striptease. I’d like to point out that this game, though it might seem from its title to be lighthearted titillation, contains depictions of violence against women and addresses issues of sexual assault. If this might trigger or distress you in any way, I’d recommend to take care in reading this, and consider whether playing this game might distress you before playing it.

Stephen ‘Increpare‘ Lavelle is probably one of the most important game makers of our time. I do not say this lightly. Increpare is prolific, distributes most of his games for free via his website, and constantly plays with form, structure, message, theme, mechanics, and music in a way that no other person does, in a way that large scale games development would never dare. He is ridiculously well read and his work displays a constant and empathetic awareness of social struggle, of political issues, and of complex interpersonal issues.

He is my favourite game maker. I discovered him two years ago whilst I was an emotionally broken wreck living in my friend’s attic. I sent this Wot I Think, my first ever, to Alec from that attic, and it was on Increpare’s Slave of God, which had the same sort of effect on my heart as a defibrillator. I’d been a zombie for months. I’d been trailing around the winter streets of Brighton and London half a frozen human being. I felt like I’d been shot and was slowly bleeding out until all of a sudden that game made my fingers type. I wrote words; at a weird juncture in my life, Increpare’s game all of a sudden made me a writer. That was when I knew that I would be okay.

Slave of God articulates feelings of isolation, overstimulation, alienation, or abandonment through images, flashing lights, the environment of a club. Striptease manages to take a fairly simple tile-moving mechanic and make the player understand the sexual objectification of women and how it depersonalises and demeans them.

On the right, there is a barely clothed woman, dressed up sexy. A yellow box designates the part of the woman you are concentrating on. This is the part of the clothing that she will next ‘take off’. On the left is a set of puzzle tiles with her body parts on that you have to swap around to put together the item the stripper, named ‘Candy’, will remove.

The game begins with text: the crude dialogue between Candy’s boss and Candy. The ‘go show ‘em what you’ve got’ seems simple enough, a kind of caricature. You then begin sliding tiles around to have Candy take her clothes off. Mechanically speaking the ‘focus’ on one aspect of her body at one time has you depersonalize her, until you begin to think of her as a collection of tiles that comprise that one important part, the part you want to see. The hair. The feet. The tits. The crotch. She’s not really a person but a set of things. Things that are goals. Things that you can win. You can bargain for them. Who cares about her face? Stop looking at her face.

Interestingly, you are penalised for putting together other parts of her body, the parts not designated in the yellow box. Put together her shoulders or some other ‘irrelevant’ part and the game awards you negative points. You think her neck is sexy? Guess again. It ain’t. That isn’t the point of this game. You look at crotch or nothing buddy. It’s like being reprimanded in the stripclub for trying to touch a woman, or for asking for too much without paying enough.

The second level, there’s another exchange of text at the beginning, this time Candy and another stripper talk about their last shift. Candy ups the ante this time: she’s wearing red.

The end of the second level is where it graduates from merely having you feel sleazy or gross to having you feel distinctly uncomfortable. Candy is waiting for a ride from her friend, and a guy from the bar begins hassling her.

Level three, Candy is entirely naked, and her body is covered in bruises. The focus now is on piecing together the puzzle so that she can put clothes on instead of take them off. First, her trousers. Then her t-shirt. The mechanical message here works two-fold, I think: as you work to have her cover up, you take both Candy’s role and a voyeur’s role, whereas before I only considered the voyeur role. The difficulty in having her put clothes on now seems somehow Candy’s difficulty in putting her clothes on; a long, sad, contemplative process. Perhaps even painful, along with the disturbing music perhaps dissociative of her body parts. But as onlookers, we also do not want to see the bruises on her body. She is no longer ‘attractive’ in a societally acceptable manner. She has become a symbol of everything we do not want to see. Her body is a symbol of where society fails women. We want her to hide it for us. If women are silent about it, it does not happen.

The game ends as Candy’s friend finds her and asks her questions about her attacker, to which Candy replies only a stuttered answer.

Striptease is a sensitively complex way to explain how women’s bodies are treated as commodities, and how value is measured and placed upon them at a purely cosmetic level. Usually games are very quick to offer up both men and women as objects that can be beaten up, but rarely if ever is the woman’s point of view represented on this violence, which is the crucial way in which the gender treatment differs. Women are never afforded the reins to their pathos. Male characters get revenge or important dialogue, some sort of narrative bluster. Male characters might get angry about the way that women are treated on their behalf, but rarely are women allowed to have their own anger.

The moral consequences of violence may be shown in terms of a police rating in GTA for example, but you won’t see a prostitute pick up a gun, assume some badass chit-chat, and embark on teaching the aggressor a lesson, or witness a playable woman gangster talking to her best friend through her stitches, because there’s no woman protagonist for the player character to lead that narrative. Women’s bodies are often the ornaments of story-led videogames. We decorate them with naked breasts or scars as if they were statues. They look nice or are punched. Only rarely are they allowed to undertake the violence, such as in Bayonetta and fighting games, and they still have to look like ornaments on a mantelpiece with very little of consequence to say.

Most of the time, women are relegated to bodies that LA Noire maps crimes on, like bruises on Candy’s body. You don’t usually hear Candy’s voice, because it wasn’t written. Perhaps what she really has to say is more gritty than twenty Call of Duties put together.

Though you can play most of Increpare’s games entirely free here, you can also donate some money here to keep him making more of the stuff we like.

You can read the back catalogue of S.EXE here. Till next fortnight, S.EXE friends.

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253 Comments »

Top comments

  1. PikaBot says:

    One thing I like about this one is that the first two stages train the player to identify individual pieces by the splashes of colors, the cheap pink and bright red of the outfit you’re removing. Because her body is composed of abstracted, pixellated shapes, these color spots provide the best way to identify a given tile. However, in the third part, these are swapped out for bruises, essentially forcing the player to pay attention to her bruising.

  1. steviebops says:

    I hear ‘important’ and I think- well this will be depressing.

  2. PopeRatzo says:

    Is there multiplayer?

    • kfix says:

      Well, at least your pointless comment isn’t yet another pointless whine about kickstarter, so that’s something.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        Whine yes, pointless no. Not for those with eyes to see.

      • steviebops says:

        Bit of an overreaction, it was just a joke. Why do people get so precious around these games?

        • gwathdring says:

          Because the context of the joke is vague at best and can easily be read as at the expense of the woman portrayed in the game rather than at the expense of the shoe-horned multiplayer trend and it’s advocates.

          It is poorly constructed which is fine when the stakes are low, but as it happens things that surround sensitive social issues in particular those dealing with gender and associated privelge tend to ratchet up the stakes a bit and accordingly ratchet up the standards for joke construction pertaining to that sensitive material.

          You can tell a joke about anything. But if you make a joke that involves someone’s recently dead grandmother you have to make DAMN sure you do it right. So when you make jokes pertaining to a game that deals with very real, oppressive, anxiety and fear inducing social modes that women experience. I have some qualms with the presentation here, but the issue is broached nonetheless which should put us into a cautious mode.

          • steviebops says:

            That’s just silly, you’re reading way too much into it.

          • gwathdring says:

            Reading too much into the comment or the situation?

            The comment–you’re welcome to think so. I don’t have strong feelings either way on this particular comment. I just wanted to provide you with a perspective that might, perhaps, shed light on why someone would react negatively to that joke. It’s not even (probably) the reason the joke was reacted to negatively to begin with but I think it’s something worth considering given the broader timbre of this comment thread.

            The situation–I assure you it is not. You might disagree with me on certain points but to dismiss the idea that we’re in sensitive territory here as silly is rather obtuse of you. To dismiss the idea that, given sensitive territory, we should construct jokes with care in particular for who is the butt of the joke and what the joke has us laughing at and so forth is to do a grave disservice to the field of comedy.

            So hopefully you meant the comment.

          • kfix says:

            Partly that, and partly the monotonous nature of some of the comments about early access and kickstarter being awful because sometimes they don’t work out. Like there were never awful games before, and like there hasn’t been an explosion of creativity in the last few years enabled by diversity in funding models.

          • steviebops says:

            gwathdring, let me throw out a scenario.
            Mulitplayer: why?
            A lone male in a strip club is very different from a group.
            There may actually be value in having this as a multi-player experience. No doubt it would all start off jokey, but, and this is just a question, could it challenge the ‘lad-pack’ mentality?

          • gwathdring says:

            That’s an interesting concept, actually. (edit: I hope this is a tangent, though, because if this is meant as an argument against my comment about the original comment it’s an incredibly long-range stretch and/or a sizable deflection and doesn’t really work.)

            Hmm. One problem I see, though, is group-think. If you attack a group of people, they band together and defend each other or split apart to defend themselves by throwing each other into the abyss. They’re less likely to look at themselves and say “Oh …. what have we done?”

            Not that it’s impossible to achieve that design goal … but that it’s a somewhat complex prospect that could easily reinforce exactly the behavior it’s meant to attack. We’re social creatures; we’re great at empathy, but we’re also very defensive. If the game was not carefully designed to get under our defense (both communal and individual) first … it wouldn’t be very effective at pulling back the curtain on the lad-pack mentality.

            Perhaps, then, such a game would work better in an abstracted space that wasn’t explicitly about a particular social theme but rather was about group-think and alienation in a more generic space. A game that didn’t fight men where they are strong (as men) but challenged them where they are more generically human minds.

            I’ll think on it. It’s an interesting design question. :D

          • Leb says:

            I found the tumblr user.

          • gwathdring says:

            The hilarious thing about your comment is that, much like associating everyone on 4chan with Anonymous, it makes you look like a blind fool.

            There are any number of conservatives on Tumblr and any number of people who don’t talk about politics at all. You don’t know me, so you wouldn’t know that my Tumblr is mostly about board games, googly eyes and waffles. Tumblr is a way of talking with friends I don’t have the time to talk to regularly through IM, Skype and phone calls. Sometimes it gets weird because there are a lot of immature people on Tumblr … but I really only follow a couple of friends and board game blogs so I don’t encounter much stereotypically Tumblr drama at all. It’s a social networking solution, not an ideology. At least for me.

            But the most fascinating part is that you’re most likely going to hear that and think “Ha! I was right! He uses Tumblr!” as though that vindicates your abysmally vapid and myopic contribution to the discussion rather than trust me that of all the statements I’ve made in all the places I’ve made them, my Tumblr is actually one of the places I’m least stereotypically Tumblr-like. Part of that’s because I think for my self. I’m not an idealist. When I DO encounter Tumblr drama my first reaction is usually “Oh god, there’s so much lazy knee-jerk I can’t deal with this” not “Woo! Fight the good fight I love Tumblr!” It’s the same reason I despise MSNBC and Micheal Moore. Those are the Democratic answer to Rush Limbaugh and Fox. Partisan politics sucks–I might be left-of-center but I’m not *blind.* Do I agree with some of their politics? Sure. But I have more respect for thoughtful disagreement than thoughtless agreement. That just means we get to have a really intense discussion from a position of mutual respect rather than a series of awkward agreements where I almost want to switch sides just so I can more effectively dismantle an awkward argument that happens to be superficially aligned with my overall stance instead of trying to do the more difficult thing fighting a two-front battle.

            Lazy thought is everywhere. It’s on Tumblr, it’s on Facebook, it’s on Twitter, it’s at liberal arts schools, it’s a gunshows, it’s on TV, it’s everywhere. And that’s where the next bit happens. I realize that my rejection of certain attitudes on Tumblr isn’t JUST disagreement. Sometimes it’s my attempt to legitimize myself by saying “Oh, at least I’m not as crazy as THEM.” And that’s lazy. And that gives me pause. And that causes me to reassess. How much is me disagreeing and how much is me doing exactly what you’re doing–using Tumblr as an easy, shrink-wrapped, microwaveable rebuttal of an entire argument or even an entire person.

            The result of that second pass is usually a lot more interesting that the result of the first pass. I don’t magically agree with stereotypical Tumblr because again part of my reaction to that is who I am not just defense of my socio-intellectual status. But it helps me see past the stereotype and into the head of the actual person typing rather than just into the head of Tumblr User Archetype Number 3.

            If you really can’t see past your moronic conception that my opinions belong to a particular website subculture and your little hurhurhur fuck-tumblr-liberals-aren’t-I-so-superiror-to-tumblr-liberals meme-spouting?

            Fine. Enjoy your ignorance. Christ almighty you are tiresome. You’re as bad as the “ewwwwww furrrrrrieeeeessss” people in today’s post about Shiness. Seriously. Take two paces out of your little comfort zone and listen to other people for half a moment without instantly categorizing what they say into your clean little boxes. God forbid, you might learn something.

    • Abndn says:

      Made me laugh, thanks!

  3. PikaBot says:

    One thing I like about this one is that the first two stages train the player to identify individual pieces by the splashes of colors, the cheap pink and bright red of the outfit you’re removing. Because her body is composed of abstracted, pixellated shapes, these color spots provide the best way to identify a given tile. However, in the third part, these are swapped out for bruises, essentially forcing the player to pay attention to her bruising.

  4. SillyWizard says:

    “…to which we do not hear Candy reply to.”

    Really?

    • tormos says:

      Fixed, methinks

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Bit harsh. Anyone who has ever done much writing on a computer understands that sometimes one goes back and re-phrases sentences or parts of sentences. Sometimes this happens in mid composition, which leads this leads sporadically to remnants of the old sentence being left lying around in the new sentence.

      That these errors can get published is testament to the fact that proofreading your own work only goes so far. Having an editor helps, but editors can miss these too.

      A lot of writers tend to assume that the grammar checker in applications like MS Word is just there for illiterate people, and turn it off. It’s really there to catch these kinds of typographical errors. There’s one for WordPress too, although it doesn’t seem to be installed in RPS ;)

  5. Zunt says:

    My thoughts are provoked; I’ve been trying to think of something more pithy to say but can’t. So, good piece. This is why I read RPS.

  6. novagoon says:

    You might not say it lightly, then again- oh yeah you do. Uggh just horrible horrible writing.

    • Mirqy says:

      Don’t let it get you down. You just need to keep practising and you’ll get better.

    • Ich Will says:

      Part of me understands that a critic does not need to have any ability in the skill he is criticising – That Jeremy Clarkson knows nothing about designing a car does not make his criticism of Saabs any less relevant.

      It still makes me laugh when someone criticises writing with what amounts to pigeon English that a six year old from Bangladesh would receive a detention for.

      • Pharos says:

        Isn’t it “pidgin”?

        I’M CONTRIBUTING!

        Whimsy aside, I have to agree with your point. Critics don’t need the same skills as creators because they aren’t evaluating those skills for their own sake, but rather examining the end result.

        It’s rather like demanding one be a master tailor to say that the emperor is naked.

        • Ich Will says:

          Hehehe, nice catch!

        • jrodman says:

          I’m now imagining a special pidgin for birds. This is awesome.

        • The Random One says:

          One doesn’t need to be a master tailor to say the emperor is naked, but it helps to be wearing clothes.

          • alw says:

            Why? Is it harder to speak with no clothes on or something?

          • gwathdring says:

            @alw

            But if we can’t delegitimize criticism with out-of-context ad hominem (chief among it: the word hypocrite), how are we supposed to defend ourselves? :P

          • The Random One says:

            @alw: Assume whether or not the emperor is naked is a point of contention. Assume one is expected to be dressed in a social situation. A naked person in a social situation would either be unable to tell if they are naked or not themselves, be unaware of either they should or should not be naked in their present situation, or would not care about whether or not they should be naked. These are snap judgements and may be wrong, but given that they are all I have to go on about said person, they don’t lead me to believe their judgement on whether or not one is naked is reliable.

          • gwathdring says:

            That’s complete crap.

            There are any number of reasons for someone to be naked and perfectly capable of perceiving nakedness of others and any number of reasons for someone to be naked without violating social protocol and finally any number of reasons for someone to violate social protocol and be capable of recognizing violation in others.

            Those aren’t just snap judgments; they’re fundamental misunderstandings of how human interaction and social programming and behavior function in a practical context.

            Not to mention a complete disregard for the complexity of causal chains. One might not be naked of their own volition and/or in the social situation of their own volition. It disregards the potential for remote viewing–by camera, by window overlooking the scene, etc.

            I’m seriously having trouble understanding why you think it’s just *simply logical* that a naked person in the crowd could not be relied upon to accurately relate that the emperor is naked.

          • Geebs says:

            It’s logically sound if you assume a culture where the standard clothing is a hat which entirely covers the head and completely blocks the wearer’s vision.

          • Josh W says:

            I think it would be other way round, like a world where everyone is short sighted, and being naked means leaving your glasses at home:

            “That emperor isn’t naked, he’s wearing a flesh coloured bodysuit!”

    • tormos says:

      I would also like to register my amusement at you taking a shot at Cara’s excellent writing in really terrible English.

      • gwathdring says:

        I’m not taking sides, because I haven’t read the OP but I caught this comment while grazing.

        I want to register my amusement that you’re conflating excellent writting with excellent grammar.

        • Geebs says:

          I’d have tort that you would have spell-checked that sentence

          • gwathdring says:

            I put an extra T in the middle of a word in a sentence while wryly poking at someone for putting too much emphasis on grammar and other fiddly elements of language as opposed to content. I think I can handle the shame of the misspelling, especially since there isn’t even an inherent hypocrisy to accentuate it. O.o

          • Geebs says:

            I just wanted to do a legal pun :-(

          • gwathdring says:

            I’m sorry! that’s a good pun. :(

            I missed it because I was tired and grumpy.

            My sincere apologies and my sincere appreciation for said pun.

            <3

          • kfix says:

            A brief apology is generally more appealing.

          • gwathdring says:

            I tried to keep it as short as possible, scotus honor.

  7. killingbutterflies says:

    “Stephen ‘Increpare‘ Lavelle is probably one of the most important game makers of our time.”
    O_o

    • steviebops says:

      Yeah, it’s a bit ‘gushy’ isn’t it?

      • Hahaha says:

        “@caraellison Quite f’ing ridiculous the commenter who said you saying that in the s.exe piece was “a bit gushy” as if a column intrinsically”

        “as if I haven’t worked at RPS covering indie games for TWO YEARS. This guy is in diapers to me” –
        Cara Ellison – 11:02 pm – 9 May 2014

        https://twitter.com/caraellison/status/465009031342342144

        • steviebops says:

          I don’t follow Twitter. I read that and I remember why.
          Look at that nonsense.

          Why doesn’t Cara reply here? Is it because the RPS commenters are all ‘in diapers’? Very odd attitude.

          • Hahaha says:

            They seem to (the writers) like responding to things relating to comments here on twitter and I feel they should be linked.

          • steviebops says:

            A gang response though? That Ben Borthwick guy seems most upset.
            Maybe a sense of perspective would help.

          • Hahaha says:

            It’s amusing, is like being at school.

          • AngelTear says:

            I always thought writers shouldn’t read the comment section of some of their “controversial” articles, for their own mental well being. It’s not worth it to ruin your mood and your day because some people are stupid, it’s like letting terrorism win. That goes for some of John’s feminist articles as well as Cara’s S.exe.

            At the same time, I can’t really blame them, both because feedback is important and it’s just tempting to read what people have to say about something you have written and that you feel strongly about.

            That said, I think writing that kind of comment on *your personal twitter* is certainly better than writing it here, it’s much less aggressive. (It’s really aggressive nonetheless, but she was probably just angry at the general comment section and overreacted a bit)

            On a different note, the comment section this time is definitely not as bad as some of the others.

          • Philopoemen says:

            Maybe “gushy” was the wrong word, but it’s a fair point. Mainly because after making the initial statement, there’s no real explanation as why we should agree with her.

            All I’m told about Increpare is that he’s an incredibly well-read social crusader. And that’s it.

            All that means to me is the guy writes games about hot topics he doesn’t have any actual experience with. He may do, but Cara’s article doesn’t expand enough to say either way. All I’m getting told is that I should marvel at how insightful his games are. From playing Striptease, I would say he doesn’t – but he’s well read.

          • AngelTear says:

            constantly plays with form, structure, message, theme, mechanics, and music in a way that no other person does, in a way that large scale games development would never dare. He is ridiculously well read and his work displays a constant and empathetic awareness of social struggle, of political issues, and of complex interpersonal issues.

            @Philopoemen Seems to me like she explained, as much as she could explain in an article that is about one game and not a biography of its creator.

        • Distec says:

          Wow, everybody in that twitter discussion comes off as totally insufferable.

          Somebody mildly disapproved of one element of a written piece? LET’S SNARK UP THE ECHO CHAMBER. Clearly that asshole hates emotions and loves five-star BINFINITE reviews.

          • steviebops says:

            I thought it was a fair criticism, but apparently I’m not real gamer and I hate feelings.

            I’m glad Cara has been at RPS for two years, I’ve been working in the game industry for four. I’ve had criticism that has made me feel awful ,and I’ve seen much worse, personal attacks, outright hatred etc.

            The hangers-on in that discussion seem worse IMHO, stirring up shit from nothing. Now I’ll never get to ask Cara out :(

          • jorygriffis says:

            Creepy joke!

          • Hahaha says:

            Most of them are also on here but wont respond to you but will talk about it on twitter where they think you wont see, is a group of bloggers with a bad case of confiramtion bias.

            “Straight men in California have massive eyebrows” can see custard responding to that pigion holing that cara posted on twitter, hi smin.

      • Cara Ellison says:

        Yo, so this is sort of weird that you care about my twitter this much but: yes! I know you can see my informal feed of bullshit! I usually don’t bother replying in comments on anything I have written that is about gender relations these days, because as usual, there’s not much clever discussion on it. Just this sort of weird sniping. I do explain my liking of Lavelle’s games. It’s right after that sentence that I initially wrote.

        ‘Stephen ‘Increpare‘ Lavelle is probably one of the most important game makers of our time. I do not say this lightly. Increpare is prolific, distributes most of his games for free via his website, and constantly plays with form, structure, message, theme, mechanics, and music in a way that no other person does, in a way that large scale games development would never dare. He is ridiculously well read and his work displays a constant and empathetic awareness of social struggle, of political issues, and of complex interpersonal issues.’

        Then I also say that one of his works had a profound effect on me as a writer. Is that not enough? As another astute commenter has picked up on, this is not a profile of Lavelle. Perhaps you should look up his work. Perhaps the one I am writing about in this column! Perhaps go to the links I’ve put in the article. Perhaps stop spending your time creeping on people who don’t have time to engage your comment. I’m glad y’all have been in the games industry for 4 years. I have been in it for longer, and you are not really entitled to an explanation from me of anything I do.

        • steviebops says:

          ‘’m glad y’all have been in the games industry for 4 years. I have been in it for longer, and you are not really entitled to an explanation from me of anything I do.’

          I didn’t ask for an explanation of what you did, and you’re the one who turned it into a weird measuring contest.
          As if the time you spent in the industry put you above reproach.

          ‘Perhaps stop spending your time creeping on people who don’t have time to engage your comment.’

          I wasn’t ‘creeping on you’,and yet you did engage.

          • kfix says:

            Yeah, it’s a bit ‘gushy’ isn’t it?

            Why doesn’t Cara reply here? Is it because the RPS commenters are all ‘in diapers’? Very odd attitude.

            I didn’t ask for an explanation of what you did

            I’m only concerned about the behaviour of this gushy woman.

            Now I’ll never get to ask Cara out :(

            Creepy concern troll is creepy.

    • Wulfram says:

      That is a pretty strong statement, isn’t it?

      Not “he’s one of the best game makers of our time” or “he should be one of the most important game makers of our time”, but that he is one of the most important.

      Despite, say, apparently not having a wikipedia article. Not that this is a great way of measuring importance, it’s just the first one I could think of.

      • SuddenSight says:

        Why bother with weaker phrasing? It’s clearly her opinion. Your alternatives simply makes the statement sound weaker without actually changing the content of the claims.

        As regards your Wikipedia search, I feel I should point out importance is not the same as wikipedia’s “significance.” Many of the most important things in the world are not well known.

        Finally, a word of my own opinion. I completely agree – kind of surprised people are denting the importance of Increpare down here. Increpare made:

        English Country Tune, one of the best puzzlers to come out in recent years.
        Puzzle Script, a script for creating block pushing puzzles. The likes of Newgrounds and Kongregate have already had a few dozen games made in Puzzle Script topping the front page.
        The Increpare website, for which a new has been made and uploaded once a week or, all for free, all unique and interesting.

        In fact, the ham this article is about is not new. I remember reading about it a couple years back when it first was published. It was interesting and provocative then and it is interesting and provocative now.

        Honestly, the most difficult thing about Describing Increpare’s achievements. I would not describe him as a political game creator, because so many of his games have no political message. Even those that do tend to have a deeply personal feeling to them, more biographical than evangelical. While I cannot think of any single game that makes Increpare so important, the bulk of his work should speak for itself. Every game has some neat or interesting idea, and all of them explore what can be done with games, and how to work deeply personal ideas into those games without sacrificing clarity of design.

        Honestly, the fact you haven’t heard of him is simply your loss, not an indicator of Increpare’s lack of relevance. I encourage you to go to his site right now and start trying the ridiculously large number of incredibly inventive games available to you there, for free, all created by one person.

      • Reapy says:

        I guess that is the thing about ‘things’ that affect us. The world is really only the world we know of to each of us, and in her world this artist was able to speak to her at an important time. My head is full of books, scenes, songs, and games that are mostly crap or meaningless in the scope of important things in the world, but are powerfully meaningful to me due to the timing of their discovery for me and relevance to whatever place I was in the world.

        In gaming related terms I think of it like ‘which FPS was your first?’. For me I got on the bus early and wolfenstien, doom and all were in my vocabulary, but to a generation of other people it is golden eye, and to other people it’s halo. For each of those it is easy for me to look down on those games as not having gone first or done everything better than what came before, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was first and meaningful for that person.

        That is really the point of a piece like this, a glimpse into someone else’s world.

    • jorygriffis says:

      I don’t understand having an issue with this. It’s pretty obvious that every fuckin’ thing about the S.EXE column is completely subjective.

  8. thedosbox says:

    Another great read, and highlights how inappropriate the “more from the web” inserts (particularly the Vice “silicone love” one) can be.

  9. The Hairy Bear says:

    What is this column meant to be about. After Outrun (basically a series of car sex jokes) this feels very odd tonally. I like Cara’s writing style but this isn’t really something that feels very linked in to me. That said it’s far more interesting than two people saying how great at sex they are (and who’s going to say otherwise except for ironic purposes).

  10. jrodman says:

    I’m sort of afraid to play this game.

    • Hahaha says:

      Why? unless you are afraid it will teach you that all stippers get beaten by randoms after they perform (which isnt true). Truth be told would probably hold more strentgh if it was a male who was raped (which is never mentioned)

      • wu wei says:

        Never mentioned? The MRA-holes won’t shut up about it. Never to actually suggest any solution, god no, but always in the context of denying the validity of the rape of women. Just like you did here.

        • Jeroen D Stout says:

          Thank you.

        • Hahaha says:

          It’s stereotyping a whole group to try and push a message and when was the last time the rape and abuse of men was pushed as an agenda in the gaming scene? if RPS is going to go full out to educate gamers then they should be covering both sides and not just focusing on one which is what they have been and continue to do.

          Everyone is mistreated, but men for some reason don’t have people shouting the same thing over and over and over. (in this context of game bloggers)

          for the lulz

          (still find it funny how long the writers on here were all men, but we shall brush that under the rug)

          • AngelTear says:

            In the context of gaming and “gamer’s culture”, the sexualization or objectification of men is not a relevant issue, and neither is the reduction/negation of men’s personality, achievements or abilities in favor of their beauty. No one insults a man in gaming because he is a man, but many people insult women for no reason other than because they are women.

            There is no male equivalent to “Tits or GTFO”, because men are not treated like that.

          • Hahaha says:

            What dick or get the fuck out

            http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dick%20or%20GTFO

            The widespread notion of what being a man is “supposed” to entail is obviously the truth as well and isnt the route of most abuse (towards men) online.

          • disconnect says:

            “when was the last time the rape and abuse of men was pushed as an agenda in the gaming scene?”

            Have there ever been any games about the rape and abuse of men? There’s nothing stopping you from making your own.

          • steviebops says:

            Wow Raiyan, that’s really shitty.

            Can’t we all be friends without bringing in race-based attacks?

          • gwathdring says:

            The day pointing out white privilege and white power structures and their influence on internet and gaming culture becomes a race-based attack is the day we give up on equality.

            Not to mention that it applies more generically through minor figurative adjustments so as not just to apply to whit people.

            It’s kind of awful in a different way, to me, because I don’t think the comic earned the usage of Trayvon Martin’s death as a punchline. So I’m not on board.

            I’m just less on board with you calling angry speech about white power structures “race-based attacks.” That’s like calling villagers defending their homes from the armed forces following a coup a guerrilla strike force. Hyperbole, yes, but it stands.

          • steviebops says:

            ‘That’s like calling villagers defending their homes from the armed forces following a coup a guerrilla strike force’ No it doesn’t stand, at all.

            Ridiculous statement. It was clearly a one-sided view of white males.
            You can obfuscate all you want, but there’s no balance there.

          • Hahaha says:

            Throwing around race based “attacks” without even knowing the races of people involved, sounds like something the regular commentors on this site would do, your worse than the people you say your against.

          • gwathdring says:

            Hyperbole is a technique. Dismissing it with the mere observation that it is ridiculous is isn’t yet more ridiculous. I even lampshaded the hyperbole–clearly I am aware that it is at least in some lights ridiculous. That implies that there is something I’m trying to convey with it’s use. You would do well to either search for it or ask for clarification rather than simply dismiss it on the grounds that it exists.

            You also seem to miss something important about what it means to make a one-sided statement about white-males. White males have power and privilege that allows them greater reign over their identities. White male in many places is not a limiting social class in most of the categories socialization tells us to consider important. White maleness is not considered as essential a component of a white male’s identity as blackness (and for that matter maleness) is of a black male’s identity. There are few slurs against white men that, when considered in context, hold much weight as erasures of their identity or lowerings of their social status. The greatest insult that can be wielded against a white male is that of oppressor. That of power-haver. That of patriarch. That of being part of a the great unfair machine. Hardly as powerful as the words we have for women and people of color, wouldn’t you say?

            Consider a military takeover of a peaceful town. When I attack the soldiers by calling them invaders, when I slur them with gun-totters and child-murderers … it doesn’t matter if they personally murdered children or carried a gun or if they truly believe what they do is not invasion (perhaps it has some greater purpose! I haven’t given context so who are we to say the soldiers are necessarily “in the wrong”?)–those slurs are from bottom to top. They are from the weaker (socially, militarily) to the stronger. They attack the unfairness of the power held. Consider the soldier attacking me as a hick. As a member of my region’s ethnic group. As a traitor. As a worthless wretch. Any or all of these points of attack–it doesn’t matter. They are from stronger (socially, militarily) to weaker. They reinforce existing social power. They erase me and shrink me back down into the ground.

            These are very different attacks. It isn’t that you can’t be racist against white people. It isn’t that you can’t hurt people who have social power over you with your words. It isn’t that you’re always right just because you’re in a position of disadvantage. It isn’t that ever individual in an oppressor class is themselves best understood as an oppressor or that they don’t have feelings we ought to consider. But we MUST understand that these attacks are fundamentally different and that they have fundamentally different goals.

            We must understand that “race-based” attacks against white people in, say, America of the type in the comic come from a place of oppression against an oppressive power structure. It never said white people are worth less than black people. It said they AREN’T worth MORE. It said they have power and they abuse it. Disagree with the context of the comic, sure, but do not make the foolish (and incredibly racist) error of interpreting that as akin to calling someone a nigger. Of pretending that white power and black power are similar enough that we can equate race-based attacks from one to the other as remotely comparable.

            @hahaha:

            Understand that the most important element of that comic is NOT the race of the “white guy defense force.” The most important element is that THEY want to avoid discussion of race and down-play racial power divides that exist.

            Perhaps figurative usage is beyond you in your state of huff, but (previously alluded issues I have with the comic aside for a moment) it’s a comic about power structures. If you can’t see past “white” then you need to bone up on your sociology.

          • Hahaha says:

            You know that’s not why they posted it they posted it as an “attack” on people they have no clue about (same with the people who can’t help but accuse people of being in the MRA), it’s not the first time that poster has chosen that route so yeah no surprise.

          • gwathdring says:

            Er, I’m not familiar with that poster so no I don’t know that’s not why they posted it.

            It’s not like I share your experiences well enough to drag in your baggage from other comment threads.

          • Hahaha says:

            Don’t think I’ve ever wrote to them I just notice what people write.

          • gwathdring says:

            I don’t remember very many individual commenters–too many names and I’m bad at names to begin with. However I do notice what people write and what I notice is that even when my post applies perfectly well to the individual speaking or posting the exact same rebuttals come up, conflating attacks on race-based oppression with race-based oppression.

            I hope you understand why I react to that strongly, then, and am not about to just take your word for it that said response is ok here because poster whoever has a history of being a stinker.

            From where I’m sitting, all I see is that pattern playing out again. I’m not a fan of the comic–I think it’s in poor taste. But your main objection to it was that it attacked white people in a context where the participants may or may not even be white. I don’t care WHO originated the post–my statements thus far apply to that reaction, in particular my points about essentialism, it’s relationship with power-structures and the concept of metonymic usage.

            Clearly the post wasn’t referring to black people, but wanted us to replace THAT lower status group with women. Is it so hard then to believe it wanted us to replace “white men” with something more generic like “men” or “cis men?”

          • Hahaha says:

            Of course, people have to say what’s on thier mind, screw what was said before.

          • gwathdring says:

            I didn’t say “screw what was said before.” But there are some very basic elements of the present context that ought to be examined especially since I wasn’t part of what was said before.

            Really, having the conversation we’re having is a bit more important than having the conversation we already had. They aren’t unrelated, but it’s not like I know any of you anyway–for all I know your history predisposes you to be even more biased and unreliable and in bad faith than you claim the other fellow’s history predisposes them to be.

          • Hahaha says:

            I know is just what most people will do.

          • Raiyan 1.0 says:

            Replace black guys with women. That’s the thing about you folks… anyone bring out any kind of different perspective, be it from a different race or gender, there’s this weird inclination to pick at it… there’s people being dismissive about grammar, another with the ‘not all men are like that’ defense, somehow making ‘social justice warrior’ have a negative connotation…

      • SuicideKing says:

        I’m glad you’ve done extensive research in this field, Dr. Hahaha. Next time i bet Cara will write to you first, asking for your esteemed opinion. After all, being a sexist arsehole entitles you to establish all opinions and proceedings in all forms of media, doesn’t it?

        Maybe ‘Fox and Friends’ needs you more than we do at RPS. Actually, now that i think about it, that’s probably true. They do need you. Answer the Call of Duty, Dr. Hahaha, you distinguished MRA activist, you! Go forth with a hoorah and ask god why Britannia has a Queen and not a King!

        • Hahaha says:

          sexist because I think this is going way to much in one direction, ok. With responses like that are you sure you are in the age bracket that is allowed to respond to this article?

          “Don’t comment unless you are over 25 years old and have thought about gender relations for longer than 15mins please”

          • SuicideKing says:

            I’m sorry, Cara’s not set any rules here.

            I’m 21, have been thinking about (and acting on) gender issues for years now, and growing up in a third world country you see a very different side of life and things.

            So yeah, I have far more problematic and pressing issues to deal with fairly often than someone on the internet pretending that we’re a part of an “Oppressed Majority“.

            Please take your agenda somewhere else, it’s not in good faith.

            EDIT: And as for it going too much in one way, that’s necessary, because “men’s issues” are not underrepresented worldwide, and feminism addresses issues of masculinity as well.

            The problem is that you’re confusing a call for equality (which is also being enforced) for WOMEN>>MEN YAY. MEN SUCK. YAY.

            The problem’s on your end, not mine. You do realise that systematic oppression needs a certain degree of force to be broken?

          • Hahaha says:

            Google is hard to use

            https://twitter.com/caraellison

            “My newest S.EXE column is on @increpare’s game about objectification, Striptease” –
            Cara Ellison @caraellison · 10:33 pm – 9 May 2014

            “Don’t comment unless you are over 25 years old and have thought about gender relations for longer than 15mins please” – 10:34 pm – 9 May 2014

            Where have I said men are a oppressed majority (who has the agenda here again) I expressed my opinion that the one sided coverage is to much and online male abuse is just as rampant. My posts have also been going off of game blogger coverage not main stream news.

            “The problem is that you’re confusing a call for equality (which is also being enforced) for WOMEN>>MEN YAY. MEN SUCK. YAY.”

            That is highly amusing seeing as what I’ve been writing.

          • Josh W says:

            If the game world and how people talk in it is starting to get imbalanced towards talking about sexual objectification and unthinkingly hostile behavior towards women, then that’s actually good, because there is a problem, another imbalance out there in the world beyond talking about or making games.

            Now you wouldn’t want this to stay forever, because you want this attitude to shoot out from the world of talking and into the world of actions as soon as possible:

            I can’t remember where I found it unfortunately, but there was an analysis of sort of ritual apologies for privalidge in american universities, and how they actually didn’t help at all with the problems women were facing, because instead of leaking out into the real world, they focused on creating a space which worked the other way round, as a release valve or compensation, with the rest of the world carrying on without it.

            You don’t want a counterweight, you want an engine.

            The answer to your concerns is simple, (but maybe a little long to write!) of course yes objectification of men is also not nice for them. Believe it or not the only time I’ve ever seen someone get their arse pinched was when it happened to me. But it was just a single rude event, and I don’t expect things like that to happen often. Or maybe twice, I can’t remember, anyway, my brushes with objectification have been infrequent and well within my tolerance level.

            In contrast, there are whole industries devoted to deconstructing and commodifying women’s bodies (in the sense that they subject them to detailed assessment on multiple different kinds of criteria and strip them down to prepared moments showing a certain feature, that are then mass reproduced). A women has a beautiful bum? Well she’ll probably be asked to do photoshoots without trousers where she arches her back a lot. And equally, there’s a parallel school of photo taking focused on pointing out those bits of women that don’t match the criteria, look at her armpit, look at the side of her leg in this dress, people gossiping like they’ve caught someone out at being an actual human being.

            This often isn’t even about sex; other women and the fashion industry frequently create all kinds of new criteria of what it means to “look your best” that have no particular relationship to what men find attractive, and almost seem to be based on the difficulty of achieving them, like some kind of mount kilimanjaro trek of meaningless body alteration. Compared to that the lazy sexuality of strip clubs is probably more accepting, just as bombs are better than nukes.

            Then you have and a lot of laddish culture that joins in with that, with men training themselves to imagine through people’s clothes, coming up with catcalls and a kind of myth of women’s sexual availability and enjoyment of being treated this way.

            There’s not anything wrong with flirting, and in theory at least even with unsolicited flirting. The difference is that we live in a world where there’s way too much of the latter for women, as well as too much expectation of it, and it’s piled on top of a consistent optimisation of women’s roles in media so as to create these moments where people can look at their bodies sexually, and all that other stuff where I’d start to repeat myself.

            The game does make a slightly lazy comparison between commidification of a women’s body and being assaulted, but it shows a certain kind of double vulnerability. Even if the character of the game wasn’t sexually assaulted, they would still find themselves after being attacked with a body that suddenly didn’t have value in the superficial sense. This desire to get women to reveal themselves isn’t actually about revealing themselves, but revealing that underneath their clothing is exactly what someone was hoping to see. It’s about filling that gap where clothing covers people with something that replicates and represents people’s fantasies, and strippers are doing a sort of work on behalf of everyone else, people can imagine that underneath your clothing is what strippers try to perfect. Hmm, thanks.

            It might seem that this is too far and that stripping exists because people just like seeing naked bodies, and it’s not about all this weird self-perfection social-expectation stuff. But imagine some stripper got up and started dancing with a massive bruise on their face (stepping back from the more extreme example in this game, you could assume it happened from some impersonal injury), and revealed more as they carried on. Would people carry on watching in the same way? No, because that produces empathy for that person not passive enjoyment of them, and that disrupts the way it works. There are so many performers out there in sex-related jobs that hide their vulnerabilities while pretending to reveal everything, trying to create a fake invincible version of humanity.

          • RobF says:

            Gosh Hahaha, you really don’t come across like some creepy shitstirring dude AT ALL here.

            Oh wait. You totally do.

          • Hahaha says:

            Google is easy to use I’m sorry you don’t know how to use it in a quick manner and any info that is in the public domain is open to being found in under 5mins and if it’s in relation to a comment on here then no surprise when it gets brought back so the person it is about can respond.

            google image search is great…… “The Bagfull Of Wrong”

          • RobF says:

            No dude. I know how to use Google. I’m saying that a) you have nothing to contribute to this discussion other than constantly derailing it (and not for the first time) and shitstirring and b) you’re coming across REALLY CREEPY.

            You couldn’t even manage a reply to me there without being really creepy. And somehow acting like Captain BestDetective in uncovering my secret identity or something.

            So whatevs, love. Have a nice time! Glad it’s been working for you so far. <3

          • Hahaha says:

            Because the convo needs nothing added…. don’t be a dick and treat others equal is the underlying message and elevating your self above everyone else is the wrong way to go about things (most of the commentators take this route) but continue to ride that high horse maybe you can get some more linkbacks.

      • AngelTear says:

        You may be interested in this GDC talk about male sexualization.
        http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1020520/Fewer-Tifas-or-More-Sephiroths

  11. aerozol says:

    Can only highly recommend playing this game. It’s really short and really concise, and uses the strengths of gaming as a medium to make you experience something, rather than trying to tell you what to think about something, which can sometimes be a problem when dealing with subjects like this (unfortunately).
    One of the best examples of what games can do, so if you have the spare ten minutes, hit it.

  12. OscarWilde1854 says:

    Apparently this game has horrible grammar… For a game with, seemingly, minimal dialogue; one would think they’d get the few lines they DO have correct.
    “It’d be better for us both if you don’t struggle, now wouldn’t it?”
    English tends to be much clearer if you pick a single tense…

    • Ramshackle Thoughts says:

      That sentence makes grammatical sense to me? Unless it’s too early in the AM and my brain is filling in all sorts of gaps to make reading easier for itself.

    • The Random One says:

      The line is correct, in the way that it correctly reflects the way a violent half-drunk man would speak. I doubt they would care dearly about verbal tenses.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Oscar Wilde doesn’t approve of this game’s grammar. Oh noes.

      • disconnect says:

        Oscar Wilde has no idea how to use a semicolon either, apparently.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          Took me a while to get his use of ellipsis too, then I realized the first is there in place of (and in the next sentence I’m going to use a semicolon incorrectly, without irony. This will demonstrate the provenance of my comment.) Glad they didn’t make me study him at school, seems like a complete …

  13. Stompopolos says:

    Her body is a symbol of where society fails men. We want him to hide it for us. If women speak out about it, they receive nothing but sympathy and support. Men are laughed at and told that they can’t be abused, that somehow they can just restrain a women attacking them and not have to explain to a skeptical cop why they are unscathed and the woman has bruises on her arms.

    • OscarWilde1854 says:

      Blasphemous! You can’t think about the other side! Men are ALWAYS at fault! Statistics say it must be so!

      ….

    • joa says:

      I’m not sure you can honestly say women receive ‘nothing but’ support when they talk about being abused, and that men receive no support at all. Naturally people are more skeptical when a man claims a woman has abused him, sexually or otherwise. I mean consider the simple physical facts – women are orders of magnitude less aggressive than men and, in the vast majority of cases, would be incapable of overpowering a man anyway.

      Even so, do you think if there were a game about sexual abuse of a man on this site then it would be laughed at? I somehow doubt it

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      OK, so, patriarchy and the traditional masculinity that goes along with it does damage to people of all genders– which, as I understand it, is a pretty core feminist message.

      • steviebops says:

        So Patriarchy and the traditional masculinity – so masculine attributes? Can you at least see how that message might come across as anti-male the same way correlating femininity to moral and physical weakness would be anti-female?

        There’s no point in having a discussion if the core points aren’t up for debate.

        • pepperfez says:

          “Traditional masculinity” (like “traditional femininity) is a creation of the patriarchy. We can count things like aggression, dominance, stoicism, indifference to feelings, high libido, etc. as traditionally masculine by this definition. The feminist response is that those aren’t intrinsically masculine qualities, and that expecting all men to display them and valorizing them above allegedly “feminine” qualities like nurturing, patience, and awareness of feelings is damaging to men, women, and society. Rather, no quality is intrinsically masculine or feminine, people are varying individuals, and a balance between those traditional extremes is healthier in the long run.
          A problem I think people often have in reacting to feminism is missing that attacks on masculinity aren’t attacks on men but on an arbitrary code of behavior foisted upon men.

          • gwathdring says:

            Exactly.

            And let’s abandon the word feminism for a moment here.

            Person a makes an argument about oppression of particular group and the relatively high social status of another group. Person b attacks that on the grounds that person a is being unfair to that second group because they have problems too. Person a retorts that, well, individual struggles aside for a brief moment the overarching social structure affords more benefits and power and lenience to the second group so whether or not those same structures hurt individuals within the second group and help individuals within the first we’re still starting with a differential in social power that is arbitrary and harmful and we ought to do something about it and that something is going to involve at least the PERCEIVED raising of the social status of the first group and/or lowering of the social status of the second.

            We can have this discussion without the word “feminism.” If that’s what it takes to get people to stop blathering on about the female bias inherent in feminism we can do that even if it’s obnoxious as all hell to have to drop decades of discussion and start from scratch just so as to get people caught up in a very male-oriented way of viewing the situation to listen to the context of the argument rather than just the superficial denotation of a single word in it–feminism.

          • steviebops says:

            ‘We can have this discussion without the word “feminism.” If that’s what it takes to get people to stop blathering on about the female bias inherent in feminism we can do that even if it’s obnoxious as all hell to have to drop decades of discussion and start from scratch just so as to get people caught up in a very male-oriented way of viewing the situation to listen to the context of the argument rather than just the superficial denotation of a single word in it–feminism.’

            Maybe if you could drop the condescending know-it-all and completely intransigent attitude, you’d do even better!

            ‘ a very male-oriented way of viewing the situation’ So again, a notion based not on individuality, but applied because of gender.

            You are neither open-minded or progressive ,and only drive people away.

          • gwathdring says:

            Tone is difficult to pull off of text. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. Perhaps you could present your view of the issue instead of your view of me and see if we can come to a better understanding or if we continue to have too many communicative differences to proceed.

            Consider the other side. From where I stand, your tone might be just as problematic as mine is to you. Perhaps that causes me to react more strongly than I would in person if we could have more of a back-and-forth and that in turn emphasizes your negative view of MY tone.

            I’m trying to speak to the arguments and words presented. I speak to perspectives (male oriented, etc) and perhaps do so presumptuously. But so far, you are the one who has leapt to guessing about me as a person–about my identity, about how I perceive myself–and have moved into talking about my self-righteous political ideology or whatever. To me, that’s a bigger leap of presumption. From where I stand, you’ve been far more presumptuous and condescending and closed minded in a single sentence than I have been in several posts together. You’ve made this more about me as a person than I made it about you as a person. Think about that.

          • Stompopolos says:

            If it’s so “damaging to society” then how have traditional gender roles and families carried us from the dark ages to where we are now? Agriculture, construction, medicine, and so many other fields created and dominated by men have shielded you from the dangers of the world to the degree where you don’t even see how traditional masculinity and femininity are valuable. Tell me, without the male traits of aggression, perseverance, dominance, high libido, etc, how would children have been created and defended from wild animals? Without the traditional feminine traits of being nurturing and caring, how would those children have been properly looked after while the men were out hunting and gathering?
            Gender roles are the basis of human society. How can they be a social construct when every single society in the history of man has realized that the physically strong gender inclined towards problem-solving should do the construction and destruction, and the more caring gender inclined towards love and nurture should take care of the children and home?

          • gwathdring says:

            If it’s so “damaging to society” then how have traditional gender roles and families carried us from the dark ages to where we are now?

            When exactly were these dark ages and how have gender roles carried us out of them? There are many advantages to pre-agricultural society, for one thing. For another, it is hardly *gender* roles that carried us into agricultural society. Indeed, if you look at workers throughout history you’ll see that one of the first things to go when money or food or other necessary resources get tight is gender restriction. There’s no sense in Molly tending to the children indoors when they she could be preventing the fields from going fallow with Dave while young William care for the younger children while also doing chores around the house.

            Agriculture, construction, medicine, and so many other fields created and dominated by men have shielded you from the dangers of the world to the degree where you don’t even see how traditional masculinity and femininity are valuable.

            Many of the most important advances in these fields have been brought about by women. There are plenty of blunders and errors and miscalculations brought about by men in these fields, too. It’s further absurd to suggest any of these fields were “created” by men. They sprung up all over the world at indeterminate times in indeterminate places are sometimes performed even by non-human animals, and cannot really be pinned down so as to say WHEN they were created let alone be said to be created by one gender or the other.

            Tell me, without the male traits of aggression, perseverance, dominance, high libido, etc, how would children have been created and defended from wild animals?

            By women with the traits of aggression, perseverance, dominance and high libido. Such has happened plenty often, you’ve just got your blinders on too tight.

            Without the traditional feminine traits of being nurturing and caring, how would those children have been properly looked after while the men were out hunting and gathering?

            By men who have been raising children for as long as children and been being born. This happens plenty often, you’ve just got your blinders on too tight.

            Gender roles are the basis of human society. How can they be a social construct when every single society in the history of man has realized that the physically strong gender inclined towards problem-solving should do the construction and destruction, and the more caring gender inclined towards love and nurture should take care of the children and home?

            But this is NOT how every society in the history of human kind has behaved. Different social structures appear both in humans and non-humans plenty often, you’ve just got your blinders on too tightly.

          • Stompopolos says:

            Beg my fucking pardon that my “male oriented viewpoint” (supported by quite a few intelligent women, mind) allows me to see the anti-male ways inherent not in feminism, but in so called feminists

          • gwathdring says:

            Pardon not granted, I’m afraid.

            I don’t much care if it’s supported by women nor what their estimated intelligence. I don’t make my judgments by taking a demographic poll of agreements and disagreements, I do it by careful analysis.

            You are stubbornly clinging to YOUR definition of feminism and feminist and plastering it over a discussion that need not even involve the word feminism to have merit so as to allow you easy avenues of pre-scripted attack. I’m not going to buy into that charade.

            Your rhetoric is *awful.* It’s entirely possible there are good ideas buried under your awful argumentation–there are certainly plenty of bad ideas buried under better argumentation. But it’s hard to get past the laziness apparent in your words to get to a point where I can listen to you in good faith.

            You just spent a paragraph spouting something that is quite plainly and proudly more male oriented and congratulatory than the particular brand of feminism being talked about here is female oriented and congratulatory. Something that is further not based in historical consideration but rather in lazy stereotypes and balderdash like “the dark ages.” You then tried to convince me that your view point was somehow more palatable because it attacks not feminism but feminists? So you’re ok with the ideas of feminism, just not anyone who, you know, believes in and champions them? Or … you know, I don’t know WHAT to make of that statement especially since it seems fundamentally in conflict with your previous statements.

            I have no idea how you think anything you’ve just said would give me any interest in paying you more mind than necessary to give me peace of mind that I didn’t let such nonsense stand on it’s own.

          • Stompopolos says:

            You are stubbornly clinging to your>/i> definition of feminist
            Au contraire. You are stubbornly assuming who I am based on my opinions of you. My definition of feminist remains the same as it was before I became aware of the 3rd wave feminist movement. My opinion of people who call themselves feminists (so that these so-called feminists aren’t called out on their bullshit due to fear of being screeched “misogyny!” at by harpies) is based on what I have seen from them. FEMEN, tumblr, and even some commentators on this site have shown the majority of modern ‘feminists’ to be uneducated, deluded, man-hating socialists and their loyal mangina followers. As such, I won’t bother arguing any longer.

          • joa says:

            Indeed you can’t have it both ways. If you want to attack inherently masculine attributes, then you are attacking men, full stop. As far as I am concerned, you are welcome to do this. Some masculine attributes have their downsides (although they have upsides as well, otherwise they wouldn’t have been selected for). The hypocrisy comes when you turn any attack of female attributes into a faux pas.

          • gwathdring says:

            Can’t have it both ways? That doesn’t even make grammatical sense in context. You’re spouting memes at me.

            Masculinity is a biologically informed social concept. It is not an objective inherent thing but it is rather part programmed part leaned part created. We can alter the course of masculinity and *have* many many many many many times over the course of human history.

            As such, we can certainly oppose various aspects of masculine construction, various aspects of feminine construction, various aspects of constructed male attitudes toward females and femininity, and still not hate either men or women.

            Really now, what are you defending? What are you afraid of? As long as the kids are taken care of, the economy is participated in, essential functions in society are performed … what stake do you have in ensuring that it all matches up with your beliefs in the essential and inevitable role of a very specific version of the concept of Male and Female? You keep blathering on about different this and different that. Sure. Men and women are different. But it’s really rather complicated and drawing rigid lines in the sand just holds people back and fucks them up. Science hasn’t made up it’s mind about “how” different other than to prove routinely that the picture was more complicated and less consistent than we thought it was. Why should we make up our minds, then? Why stubbornly defend the status quo for no other reason than you think it’s totally badass or carved in stone whatever?

            Example. Women can go out at night in a short skirt without having to be afraid. They do it all the time. Women are so ridiculously more likely to be attacked by a man they already know and trust than a stranger and that could happen at home, in the car, anywhere and it doesn’t require them to dress a certain way. And yet far too often we won’t let women walk alone. We have to escort them. We patronize them and shame thing and shepherd them and put them in a position of needing a keeper and of being less socially independent–why? Testosterone is apparently your answer. Well, it’s a shitty answer. It’s not an answer based on fact or history or anything else–it’s an answer based in socialization. It’s a socially programed answer. That doesn’t make it wrong or evil or anything like that, but personally I think there are better alternatives and for some reason rather than disagreeing with those alternatives with some sort of sound logic, you blurt out that this is just the state of nature or similar.

            That’s not good enough.

          • joa says:

            I’m not particularly invested in the status quo. I’m just not interested in an ideology that involves head-in-the-sand denial of science and common sense. And that is what you’re doing. If you took an honest look at scientific research relating evolved gender-specific traits, you would see it’s not some wildly confusing gender bender world out there but rather there are many meaningful distinctions between men and women that are critical to our identities, that shape how we think and relate to each other.

            On your other point, women often walk with others late at night to reduce the risk of being attacked. You can say that makes them less independent, but we live in the real world, and I think most women value their safety over a feeling of independence. I don’t think I said the desire to protect women was testosterone either – but there certainly is an evolved desire in men that makes them want to protect women. Regardless, it’s common sense.

            You say that women are more likely to be attacked by a man they know than by a random stranger. I’ve also heard that. Do you honestly think that men attacking women is encouraged by society? Is it the cultural script that after a getting to know a woman, a man should attack her? Or is it perhaps a little more likely that this is caused by a combination of male aggression, libido and social circumstances?

          • kfix says:

            “If you took an honest look at scientific research relating evolved gender-specific traits, you would see” a bunch of just-so stories and rank speculation, much of it with an agenda. And saying that there are “many meaningful distinctions between men and women that are critical to our identities” is overselling what the research is saying.

            It’s one thing to claim, say, that holders of an XY chromosome pairing have a different distribution of relative proportions of certain hormones, which leads to a different distribution of physical characteristics, which combined with social, cultural, environmental and individual factors leads to a different distribution of observable behaviours. That’s uncontroversially true. But given that there is obviously quite a lot of overlap in those distributions compared to XX holders, you just can’t credibly say that there are “distinctions”.

            There are people with XX chromosomes who have more testosterone than some people with XY or even YY chromosomes. The same is true for any physical or behavioural characteristic that you could name. Just because there are tendencies for men to be bigger, stronger etc does not mean there is an essential difference – it’s just a distribution, and it doesn’t say anything about where any given individual is going to be on that distribution. And it certainly doesn’t say anything about your or anybody else’s ability to assign roles to someone else based on one fact about their biology.

          • joa says:

            Of course I can say there are distinctions. What you are saying basically amounts to idea that there are women out there that are more male than some men, and men that are more female than some women; this obviously does not bear out in reality.

            Even your most aggressive and driven women and weak and useless men still have fundamentally different ways of thinking and relating to the world from each other.

            Your overlap theory is anti-scientific. Evolutionary traits are evolved for a reason. It makes no sense that some women would end up with some male traits and that some men would end up with some female traits.

            Evolutionary traits are tailored specifically for males and females – in the simplest terms, they centre around female reproductive costs being high and male reproductive costs being low. There is no overlap here. There aren’t any males in the world with higher reproductive costs than women, and there aren’t any women in the world with lower reproductive costs than a man. They are completely disjoint groups. Therefore there won’t be much overlap (if any) for traits that are evolved as adaptations for these differences.

            That’s why men and women never see eye to eye on issues of sexuality. Because we simply have opposing evolutionary goals.

          • gwathdring says:

            “On your other point,”

            It wasn’t a “point.” It was a hasty example. I felt that was clear from the part where I curtly wrote “Example.” The point was the concept more than the specific issue–we can always find flaws in this sort of argument by zooming in and deflecting. Social interactions are complex; fractals abound.

            So concepts then. Common sense is the heart of social programming. It is knowledge by osmosis rather than careful assessment. Relying on common sense is not always BAD, but good or bad common sense is an incredibly socially-charged idea. Common sense is a cornerstone of socially-oriented decision making and as such referring to common sense while trying to deflect the importance of social programming in these sorts of situations smacks of not paying attention.

            “I’ve also heard that. ”

            Statistics are a muddy thing at best, but the FBI, CDC, and WHO all report the finding.

            “Do you honestly think that men attacking women is encouraged by society?”

            Yes, society does … if we get rid of the word “attack.” Sexual assault is not like physical assault. There isn’t always a definite point where it starts seeming like an explicit attack–again, it’s a social situation. Sexual assault is non-consensual sexual interaction; that doesn’t require something that fits the prototype of an “attack.”

            Society encourages men to consider sexual favors their right in certain circumstances. This social enforcement does not incorporate the concept of consent often enough, empowering men to take sexual advantage of women due to their position of power or even as a way of enforcing it first and sexually gratifying themselves second.

            Consider racial and ethnic violence for a moment. Does society encourage people to kill and maim their fellows? Of course not. Does it encourage white people to beat up black people? Not exactly. But then why do they do it? Black men are not less *male* then white men. Shouldn’t the violence be symmetrical then? It’s complicated. There are biological impulses involved, but they have been connected to a social landscape in ways that are not always apparent or intuitive.

            It would be silly to suggest that the biolgical component in that system is that we’re genetically and hormonally inclined to beat up people of a specific ethnicity or even to beat up people of a different ethnicity. In fact it is quite clear that criminally violent behavior is perpetuated by the minority of people; violence isn’t necessarily in our nature to begin with. We shun hurting each other, typically–we’re a social organism and we want to do right by one another and cooperate. That’s not how I think the world should be, that’s how the world is. Sure, war has always existed. But you don’t get societies as massive and successful as those in the modern world without a fundamental impulse to cooperate.

            Just so it would be silly to suggest that men were biologically predisposed to commit rape. Most men do not commit sexual assault. Sexual assault is a socially and personally defined phenomenon that can involve a vast span of physical and environmental situations–connecting them all together through biology is not scientific. It is an unreasonable stretch compared to accepting the role of social interaction in … you know … *social interaction.* Multiple people interacting according to a script? That’s social! Is it biologically informed? Sure, some of it. But we can trick our brains and our biology to do all kinds of things that don’t make sense in an overly-literal interpretation of evolution and biological development; we do this every day in the modern world. There’s nothing in our biological programming that tells us to do a 9-5 computer programming job. But that’s what some people will spend most of their life doing. Clearly our biological impulses are *too damn simplistic* to fully explain our behaviors!

            Why is that so bizarre and unclear to you that you have the gall to call it unscientific?

            I’m exceedingly confused.

          • joa says:

            The idea that men are owed sexual favours by women in certain circumstances is a very biological one. Generally the idea is that the man provides the woman protection and resources and the women repays with sex. Are you really suggesting that this is not biological, but a product of society? I have no idea to what degree men are inherently rapists or how much the idea of consent is informed by biology or society, but I reject the notion that biology plays no part.

            I don’t buy your assertion that violence is mainly perpetrated by white men on black men either. The opposite in fact would appear to be true. Of course the causes are numerous and very complicated – biology, society, etc. I think it’s you who are taking an overly literal approach to what I’m claiming as biological. Yes we’re not evolved to work a 9-5 office job. But we are evolved to try and obtain resources to ensure our survival and attract a mate.

          • kfix says:

            this obviously does not bear out in reality

            I don’t want to make any assumptions about who you are and where or how you live, but I think you might need to get out more. There are all kinds of people out there who do not think the way you seem to insist they must think, or act the way you want to have them act. How do people like the Samoan fa’afafine fit into your worldview?

            Evolutionary traits are tailored specifically for males and females… There aren’t any males in the world with higher reproductive costs than women… They are completely disjoint groups. Therefore there won’t be much overlap (if any) for traits that are evolved as adaptations for these differences.

            Thanks for getting to the meat of your understanding of evolution and it’s influence on behaviour. Lets just say I don’t think it is “anti-scientific” to believe that it might be a bit more complicated than this just-so story. Evo-psyche will surely have a role in advancing our understanding of human behaviour, but it’s laughable at this stage to claim with any degree of certainty the evolutionary origin of specific traits, never mind claiming some kind of universality for any trait in the face of, I dunno, looking out the window some time to see some of the weird and wonderful people out there.

          • kfix says:

            I reject the notion that biology plays no part

            No one is saying that. What we are rejecting is the notion that biology is solely determinative of behaviour. If it was, there would be no differences between cultures across space and time.

          • Muzman says:

            Gender Biological determinists really need to check out Sapolsky’s story of the baboon troupe that lost all its males some day. Unless they’re saying human gender roles are more biologically determined than Baboons, and I wouldn’t put it past them.
            Short version; shit is complex. You can be a biological determinist but you better be real careful how you do it if you don’t want to be wrong. (truth is they’re mostly just conservatives looking for a justification)

          • gwathdring says:

            Not only has no one said that biology plays no part, I have stressed over and over that biology plays a significant part. :P

            As I put is lower down in the thread, while biology plays a part the trouble with biological essentialism/determinism is that if you aren’t very very careful you end up denying the significance of emergence.

            I would say, accordingly, that my disagreement is not that I think anyone has said biology is the sole determiner (I think that particular disagreement was a matter of stubbornness and imprecision, not intent). Rather I’m adamant that gender *roles* are more fundamentally emergent then determined. Sure, we reinforce gender roles with biological determinants … but we could easily reinforce a complete role reversal with biological determinants–hell, with the SAME biological determinants.

            I’m arguing that gender is so decidedly emergent that biology is significantly LESS useful in understanding gender than psychology and sociology and culture and individual variation.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          “So Patriarchy and the traditional masculinity – so masculine attributes? Can you at least see how that message might come across as anti-male the same way correlating femininity to moral and physical weakness would be anti-female?”

          Are you just concern trolling here? Or are you really saying that while it hurts women to ascribe inherent traits to them, I’m hurting men if I don’t ascribe inherent traits to them? Either way, nice sleight of hand trying to turn “traditional masculinity” into “masculine attributes…” because that second one is easier to get angry about than what I actually wrote, I guess?

          And for that matter, can you name any truly inherently masculine attributes – ones that aren’t socially constructed to some degree? Other than testosterone levels and the like.

          “There’s no point in having a discussion if the core points aren’t up for debate.”

          There’s no point in having a discussion if someone is going to consciously read people’s comments in the least charitable way possible. I think you know what I meant: men who are abused face shame for speaking out about it, and that’s because they’re not living up to a certain arbitrary standard of maleness– a standard of emotionless invulnerability that’s mostly created and supported by other men.

          • joa says:

            Testosterone level, which you admit is inherently masculine, is one of the primary causes of the traditionally masculine traits. You can’t then claim that traditionally masculine traits are socially constructed, can you?

          • gwathdring says:

            Men possess testosterone in varying levels. Women posses testosterone in varying levels. Environmental factors, diet and stress can all interact with our hormone levels.

            Short of giving everyone weekly blood-tests, why would you then essentialize behaviors that are not caused by testosterone but *merely related to testosterone among other things* as fundamentally belonging to people with Y-Chromosomes and/or penises?

            There are many sources of aggression. If you think testosterone is the only one, you should probably learn a bit more about the brain and the endocrine system before you claim to understand them.

          • joa says:

            Men possess testosterone levels far in excess of any woman’s, although you are right that levels vary between individual men and individual women.

            I’m not interested in “essentializing” anything. The difference is that while my view of the world is informed by my own life experience and the best theories that science currently has, your world view is more informed by the way you would like the world to work, with all the inconvenient bits dismissed as being “socialization”.

            My view is really quite simple. Men and women have evolved traits that made us effective survivalists. Given some of the key biological differences between us – e.g. pregnancy, high cost of reproduction for women, low cost of reproduction for men – men and women have evolved markedly different traits to best ensure our survival and reproduction. These differences often manifest themselves in societal interaction (hence this whole conversation).

            I have no interest in judging people when they do or do not conform to these models of human behaviour. I have no interest in defending clearly damaging behaviours on the basis that they are biological. I do, however, want to look honestly at the human behaviour and biology, and not just bury my head in the sand and pretend it’s “socialization”.

          • gwathdring says:

            Then you have already buried your head in the sand.

            Social structures are one of the fundamental characteristics shared by species we consider to be (relatively) “advanced” and “intelligent” other than humans. Social structure is a fundamental part of our biological process. without social sharing infants do not learn those survivalist strategies you refer to. Further, we live in a world radically different from that of our ancestors and yet somehow we continue to thrive–I assure you it is not because our systems are fundamentally the same as they have always been, gender included.

            By denying the power of social structures you are denying one of our greatest assests–denying the very thing that makes the difference between a species like humans and a species like leopards. We form massive social structures that span the globe and you act like I’m being unscientific and wishy-washy and idealistic for respecting the power of social systems to alter our function.

            You accused people of attacking men for expressing discontent with non-optimal social structures and the problems they cause. I don’t understand how that fits your professed intent.

          • kfix says:

            I’m not interested in “essentializing” anything.

            I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

            You are exactly claiming that there is an fundamental difference – a difference in essence – between men and women, and that this difference is evolutionary in origin. You admit no role for culture, no agency for the individual, no significant variability in biology or behaviour. You are, in short, an essentialist.

          • joa says:

            The social structures are informed by biology and exist to help fulfil our biological needs. The social structures that are ineffective at fulfilling our needs or that try to dismiss our needs altogether (c.f. communism) don’t last long. The fact that we thrive in a world very different from the one in which we evolved is a testament to the power of our brains and has fuck all to do with sexual adaptations.

            I don’t think I ever criticised anyone for attacking men who dislike gender roles. I criticised the hypocrisy of attacking men who dislike their gender role while venerating women who do the same. You are welcome to criticise gender roles, or criticise people who criticise gender roles, just so long as you do it consistently.

            Edit: I admit plenty of role for culture and individual variability. But I also think biology plays the fundamental role in human behaviour. An individuals upbringing, and influence from society, and other people and so on obviously shapes one’s personality and behaviour to a degree. But a lot is determined by biology. If that makes me an essentialist then that is what I am.

          • gwathdring says:

            You say it is anti-scientific to call gender a primarily social phenomenon.

            That is quite simply not allowing much room for cultural and individual influence.

            See, you don’t just say “a lot is determined by biology.” We’ve agreed on that point but you still make a point of attacking my arguments as “unscientific.” You mean something other than just “a lot is determined by biology.”

            I’m under the impression that you think biology does and always will cause men and women to perform to their modern stereotypes more strongly than any social influence can hope to perturb. You seem under the remarkable impression that gender as it exists today is a sort of equilibrium. Here’s the problem: biology creates all kinds of unsustainable paradigms. Things evolve into dead ends and go extinct. The idea that serving biological ends is some fundamentally more sensible or inevitable purpose than serving social ends is a misunderstanding of the study of evolution and biological history.

            Biological impulses are small-scale and immediate. Hunger does not cause us to put microwave meals in a microwave oven. Hunger causes us to feel a desire to abate our hunger. We have SOME automatic processes that get us part-way to functioning … but then we reach the realm of behavior.

            Behaviors are learned. Conditioned. Conditioning is a messy process that involves a great many deviations from the simplest, easiest, optimal path. Just because our biology predisposes us to, say, put a microwave meal in a microwave oven doesn’t mean that using a microwave is somehow fundamental to our biological process. This is where the idea of abstracting social and cultural structures as separate from biological structures becomes useful. Of course they are all in communication, but just as imaginary numbers can be part of an algorithmic process that produces real-number results (a common phenomenon in electrodynamics and quantum theory–not important but it’s kinda cool!), abstracted social, cultural and ideological systems can be no less fundamental in producing the resultant behaviors than the concrete biology that superficially can be seen to originate the entire system.

            Let’s put this another way. What point and use is there in saying gender is first and foremost biological? We don’t understand the biological system well enough to derive modern society purely from neurochemicals genes and cell signaling pathways. It’s certainly easier to understand gender via biology than it is to understand filial relationships through quantum mechanics … but the pursuit is no where near as much more straight-forward and robustly understood as you seem to want us to believe.

            We don’t have all the biological pieces, but we can understand the social pieces much more easily. It all connects back up eventually, so why not try to understand it first at the social level which we can understand more concretely and second at the biological level which we can use to modulate our understanding of the social phenomenon?

            What you are doing is akin to an astronomer starting with the idea that the Earth is not the center of the universe and then trying to define everything in terms of absolute rather than relative position. That biology ultimate LEADS to the systems in place today does not mean as much as you seem to think it does. We do not practically behave according to our individual cell signals. Practically, our social structures hold as much if not more power over the shape of our lives and our behaviors.

            Electronics is the fundamental science of video gaming. Computer hardware determines what is and isn’t possible in games. But there are many emergent properties and many extra layers of abstraction in complex computing systems and in the code of games that makes an understanding of computer hardware much less important to the practical art of making and playing games than those higher-level systems and properties. The lower level system defines certain hard limits and tendencies, but they can be twisted and masked and glitched and gamed and contorted to the point that most game makers do not need to know a darn thing about semi-conductors.

            This is the relationship, I feel, that exists between human identity (including gender) and human biology. This is not a point of idealism; there are plenty of things I wish to be true that I do not believe to be true for example the ability of humans to make effective long-term goals such as would have been necessary to avert the human-assisted elements of climate change. I never for a moment thought we’d keep CO2 levels below 250 or 350, but boy did I campaign for it and struggle toward the hope of it.

            Our biological hardware has many foibles and conflicts and inefficiencies and oddities and social systems have twisted them around into yet more complicated and convoluted engines that we call people. Those people cannot escape either the power of their socializing process and yet their socializing process can subvert the occam’s-razor biological response. We routinely do things because of our social programming that serve no immediate biological purpose.

            And while some people go on about “yeah but it benefits the species” thing … they seem to forget that such is a fundamentally social and abstract concept. It’s not like their body knows what is an isn’t likely to benefit the whole species. Rather they have a lot of traits some of which help and hinder the species as a whole some of which help and hinder them as individuals and all of which interact with the behaviors of other individuals in myriad complex ways that generate emergent properties that are poorly understood as primarily biological just as video games are poorly understood as Electricity and Magnetism.

            The trouble with essentialism is that it is in denial of emergence.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I’ll just leave this here for you.

      • AngelTear says:

        That was really nice!
        Well, “nice”, but still thank you for posting it ^_^

      • Stompopolos says:

        French music is not an argument. Either think about your point of view and why you hold it or realize you lack critical thinking skills and keep your opinion to yourself.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          What are you on about? Did you watch the film? It’s not a music video.

        • Ny24 says:

          First of all, “french music” is always the answer. Just watch Les Misérables sometimes. Second and much more important: This isn’t french music but a good mirror for what women have to endure on a everyday basis and you dare to stand here and imply that this is nothing when compared to poor old men. Shame on you!

      • EveryoneIsWrong says:

        Typical MRA scummy movie is scummy…

        uh.. I think you missed the entire point of the film. Maybe you should watch it again (or, I am assuming, for the first time).

        • AngelTear says:

          MRA? This is a clearly feminist video aimed at “convincing” men.

          It shows a total role reversal, and it makes them understand what women often have to deal with, by highlighting how absurd the female reactions in the film (sexist, male attitudes in real life) are. It’s excellent at forcing empathy on a male public by having the roles reversed and the “victim” as a man.

          • EveryoneIsWrong says:

            The second half of my comment was the response to the first half.

          • steviebops says:

            ‘forcing empathy’
            You can’t force that, it’s either there or it isn’t.

          • AngelTear says:

            @steviebops

            Do you prefer the wording “Facilitating empathy”?

          • steviebops says:

            That is better :)

          • Stompopolos says:

            Thing is, role reversals don’t work as arguments, because men and women are different. If I attempted to show how cruel it was to keep dogs as pets by showing a video of a person lying down in a backyard while it’s dog owners drive off to work and school, you’d laugh at me. Because, much like a man and a woman, a dog and a person are two very different creatures, with very different mindsets, traits, and roles in society.

            Edit: Grammar

          • gwathdring says:

            There is very little evidence to support men and women as being fundamentally different. This is further muddied by the complexity of gender vs. chromosomal sex.

            We don’t even have to go there, though. Cis-gendered men make excellent parents and cis-gendered women make excellent workers and soldiers. Both have fulfilled both purposes across the span of human history in a richly documented fashion. That is, richly documented *despite* male control over much of the documentation process over much of the world, AND rigid male control over the academic processes that review that documentation and process it into history.

            Despite that there is abundant precedent for gender roles that look quite different from the mid-20th century America/Europe view that you espouse. Many thins considered feminine now were considered masculine 100 years ago or further back and the reverse also holds. From chores to clothes to athletic activities to behavioral cues to social roles. Patriarchy is an immensely varied social structure–it is also not the only social structure that has existed or even that has thrived throughout history.

            That something has been around a long time and, from it’s own internal self-perspective, has been strong and stable for a long time … does nothing to show either that it is natural or that it is good–let alone both together. Pre-agricultural society existed and thrived for hundreds of thousands of years prior to agricultural societies beginning to form … compared to those older social structures our systems of living are mere passing fads and fantasies. This is made more dramatic by the more rapid pace of change in our environments and thus in our social structures; the role of gender has changed dramatically along with the role of technology just like everything else. Our systems of being are young and in flux and we have little time to adapt to them before the world is yet again re-written.

            You would not say that an obsidian dagger is as formidable a weapon as a well-kept assault rifle with a removable steel bayonet, and yet you suggest that the social systems that “carried us out of the dark ages” are somehow superior to new ones we might create now? Social systems are flexible and constructed; that is how we survived so many rapid changes despite having fundamentally the same brains as our ancestors from and thousands thousands of years ago. Yet you would have us believe a) that that flexibility does not exist and that our social systems (particularly those of gender) are functionally the same as they’ve always been and b) that such is the way things should be.

            It is utterly mind-blowing.

          • Phasma Felis says:

            ” much like a man and a woman, a dog and a person are too very different creatures, with very different mindsets, traits, and roles in society.”

            You can’t have met many women if you think men and women are as different as different species.

          • joa says:

            So what about the raft of evidence that shows that men and women are fundamentally different, gwathdring? A lot of it from experiments devised and conducted by women at that. Are these women conspiring amongst themselves and male scientists to keep women down? It’s a nonsensical view.

            Who cares if in times of hardship women are capable of performing male duties and vice versa? That only emphasises the fact that given the option, there are clear male and female roles that members of each sex would prefer to take (even if these roles aren’t always perfect fits).

            Gender is not a social system but a biological one. To suggest otherwise is to ignore huge fields of science and basically go “la la la la la la can’t hear you”. It’s like climate change denial or creationism, except because it is done in the name of political correctness it gets a pass. Moreover, it does nothing to actually help anyone. You don’t help victims of rape by ignoring the inherent differences between men and women that cause rape in the first place. You certainly don’t add anything to the discussion on objectification by pretending that men being titillated by naked women is a social construct!

          • gwathdring says:

            So what about the raft of evidence that shows that men and women are fundamentally different, gwathdring?

            Name an example. Your definition of fundamentally is probably very strange. Here’s the problem: “man” is defined as a social concept as is woman. We define genders in terms of their social roles. Let’s pretend for a moment there is a fundamentally biological basis for *every single* trait so associated. Even if that’s true, using a socially-charged language to define and uncover that basis is a flawed approach because it begs the question from the get-go. It’s like trying to define number theory using number theory. It doesn’t work. Systems can never be defined from within–that is a property of all systems including the system of gender.

            Your approach is fundamentally screwed up, regardless of the accuracy of your conclusions.

            Who cares if in times of hardship women are capable of performing male duties and vice versa? That only emphasises the fact that given the option, there are clear male and female roles that members of each sex would prefer to take (even if these roles aren’t always perfect fits).

            During a flood, we place sand barricades around our houses to keep the water out. Does this serve only to emphasize that most of the time we do nothing to keep our homes dry? Absolutely not. Simply because it happens in times of duress does not mean a) that it does not happen the rest of the time or b) that it happening is somehow meaningless. It’s just an easy example–we do all kinds of other things on a routine basis that subvert traditional gender roles but we ignore those instances as exceptions *because the roles they subvert define our view of normal.*

            Gender is an essential part of human society. Sure. But *the specific roles we assign to specific people* is not quite so essential and in fact has changed dramatically over time and from place to place. You are clinging to a very small subset of human behavior and using the happenstance that causes it to predominate in certain aspects of modern society as evidence for the essentialness of the justification that thats how things should be. The circularity in your rhetoric is beyond bonkers.

            Gender is not a social system but a biological one.

            You’ve got that backwards. The entire field of sociology and much of biology, psychology and zoology are predicated on the concepts that social organization matters and that social order can change biological order (and the reverse, as well, of course). The World Health Organization, Wikipedia, the friggin’ dictionary, biology textbooks, sociology textbooks … there are any number of clean, obvious, sources you could turn to that would tell you that in pretty much every single non-casual, non-colloquial parlance “sex” is the biological descriptor while “gender” is a social descriptor. Clearly there is a relationship between the two, but even in the animal kingdom the relationship is countless times proven complicated, fuzzy, and variable not just between species but between individuals within a species. And yet for some reason, humans with our greater cognitive flexibilites and complexities are supposed to have rigid, biological-only gender? That’s preposterous.

            Men rape men, women rape men, it all goes around. Rape is partially biological, but it’s primarily a social phenomenon. After all, rape is non-consensual sex. Consent is a social not a physical phenomenon is it not? To pretend rape is informed primarily by biology is just as preposterous as pretending rape has nothing to do with sex. It is neither all about power nor all about biological urge. There are plenty of ways to achieve sexual gratification without rape and plenty of sexually gratified individuals who commit rape.

            You writing all of the complexity of socialized gender off as men being from mars and women being from venus is incredibly problematic. My point is not that gender has NO biological basis. You are speaking with someone who respects the possibility that free will doesn’t exist and that everything is pre-determined by the laws of the universe running forward (albeit with random chance having a role in certain kinds of physical events). But tell me, how do women learn to raise children? How do men learn to lift and carry things? How do women learn to wear dresses and demure? How do men learn to fight?

            Humans aren’t like ants. We aren’t born properly programmed. We aren’t born knowing how to do much more than absorb our surroundings and breath. As our brains develop, only some of the blanks are filled in by our genes alone–much requires exposure and teaching even if all that does is activate existing pathways. We are one of many species that requires extensive education in order to become proper, mature models of the species. Gender is a part of that. If you cannot see that, you are blinding yourself.

      • Geebs says:

        It’s a stereotype that the French tend to be massively prejudiced against their Moslem community, and it’s sad to see that sort of behaviour in a film which is supposed to empower the disenfranchised.

  14. Amun says:

    “The moral consequences of violence may be shown in terms of a police rating in GTA for example, but you won’t see a prostitute pick up a gun, assume some badass chit-chat, and embark on teaching the aggressor a lesson, or witness a playable woman gangster talking to her best friend through her stitches, because there’s no woman protagonist for the player character to lead that narrative.”

    Whoa there! What about Saints Row 3 and 4 with their playable women gangster options?

    Also let’s (jokingly) consider the iron women of Dwarf Fortress who give birth asexually, often without missing a minute of work, and regularly use their babies as shields in battle.

  15. Philopoemen says:

    Every time I see one of these articles, I wonder whether the designer is making it for someone in their life, or just as a tool to identify what they perceive as social injustice. Because it seems to be more about preaching to the converted, and everyone self-congratulating themselves about how progressive they are.

    The core message seems to be “don’t you feel bad about how you’ve treated women now? You’re just like one of these guys who assaults women when you objectify them.” Only we’re not. Anyone that plays the game is already engaged enough that we realise that bad is bad. I’ve dealt with numerous victims, and perpetrators of, sexual assault, sometimes minutes after the fact – sometimes years – and something like this isn’t going to change someone’s attitudes; it’s just going to reinforce someone’s pre-existing notions.

    I guess I’m just wondering what the developer is hoping to achieve, other than some praise for being aware of something that’s generally not spoken about (but not something that people are unaware of.)

    • gwathdring says:

      This is my line of thinking as well.

      In particular because this is exactly the kind of discourse with respect to the concept of objectification that I dislike. Objectification occurs routinely for people of all genders; the extent to which objectification differs for men and women is rather more itself the issue than the idea that women are being objectified in the first place.

      I feel like the focus on individual body parts, for example, is shaming us for the wrong thing. Is it *wrong* to find hands, feet, breasts, legs, necks to be desirable objects? Are you a better person for always engaging your environment with the high level abstraction that subjectifying humans as “people” first and meat-bags/task-doers second represents? I don’t think so. We’re people. We’re animals. We’re objects. We’re all of these things and we make mistakes and we flit between those modes and we flit between viewing each other in those modes. Sometimes we subjecttify our cars and personify our cats and accordingly sometimes we objectify our neighbors and lovers. None of this is a problem.

      The game adds some nuance to this by forcing us to focus on individual parts–a pre-scripted objectification as opposed to a more organic one. But this falls flat for me because it may well be a mere gamification of first-person objectificaiton and body-parceling or it may well be a gamification of the social sexual script. Either way the message seems a little off-base. It’s a little too simple to say anything of interest here; there is a social script that partially defines sexy for us and it causes problems … but it’s also not itself a bad thing and it’s a natural result of human socialization that can be modulated to be more positive but cannot itself be seem as a bad *mechanism*.

      The problem is that–whether object or subject–women are afforded less social status and are afforded inferior position to men on a routine basis. The problem is that we essentialize gender such that whether as object or as subject our gender has too big a role in how society treats us and even how our most intimate friends treat us. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for us to objectify people in sexually charged imagery–the purpose of such imagery is typically to engage on a sexual level which does not always require a sentimental and subject-oriented attachment to the image. What I’m more interested in is discussing the problems with when and why we use sexual imagery instead of other kinds of imagery and what and why we define as sexy when writing our social-level programming for sexual desire.

      I think it is important that we fault *behaviors* not fuzzy, hard-to-pin down thoughts. That we fault actors (including verbal actors) not voyeurs (metaphorically–there are circumstances where voyeurism as it is thought of in a sexual context requires socially/legally inappropriate behavior).

      Now, to be fair, I think it sounds like the game is more in communication with this than the article reads as being–the game has an act of violence perpetrated against the character. Without playing it, it is possible that the game is trying to get us to think something other than the crime of the voyeur/player. I certainly hope so, because I find that concept to be trivial and unhelpful.

      • Geebs says:

        Very eloquently put. I think your point about “all crotch, all the time” not really matching up with the way people really behave was incisive and expressed something I hadn’t quite been able to put my finger on.

        I do wonder whether the plot being the inevitable-shaming-of-the-fallen-woman is meant to be a reference to titillating, isn’t-it-horrible novels like, say, Moll Flanders, with the reader/player’s complicity being the focus.

        I did however think it veers a bit towards a slippery slope argument of objectification.

        • kfix says:

          It can be overdone, but it think this style of presentation of the problems of objectification taken too far is worth doing, in the same way that pointing out examples of ridiculous photoshopping of glamour images is worth doing – to show how something so ubiquitous can get built in to people’s expectations over time.

          • gwathdring says:

            I suppose pulling back the curtain is never a bad thing on it’s own. Trouble is a lot of people don’t see it as pulling back the curtain but instead assume we’re supposed to see it as proof that curtains a) hide bad things or b) ought to be burned.

            That happens a LOT with stuff like female coded clothing, female sexuality, sexual objectification, sexual imagery, masculine coded activities, etc.

            It slides very easily into anti-sexual territory for the audience whether or not it does for the creator. This isn’t necessarily the creator’s responsibility, but there seems to be a sense of moralizing rather than merely exploring which makes that kind of crossfire somewhat unpalatable.

            There is a strong sense of shame being played on here, it seems. But that shame is somewhat imprecise–hypothetically, are we being shamed for looking? For continuing to look once it goes violent? For finding sexiness? For following socially prescribed ideas of sexiness? For objectifying?

            I think to an extent we’re being shamed for some of these and I don’t think we should be shamed for anything but the second one–continuing to look once it goes violent. Obviously the mechanics compel us NOT to act or get involved in any way but to watch and play dress up, but that’s fine; mechanical conceits are a great technique for forcing a player to face consequences for their actions without the protection of thinking “well, I could have done it the other way I just wanted to see what happened.”

            I get the impression that I disagree with the moral of the story. Perhaps I’m wrong.

          • kfix says:

            I *think* your concerns are more about the audience than the message, but I suppose that doesn’t give the author a free pass to disregard it if they care about the message.

            Also, can I just say I wish I could write as well and as well-tempered on subjects like this as you can. Single-handedly rolling back the bad rep of internet commenting.

    • MiniMatt says:

      No, it’s not going to turn a troglodyte into one of the enlightened.

      But that’s not to say it can’t give another angle for “the enlightened” to consider. And that’s not to say there exists two camps, the enlightened and the troglodytes; there’s a scale across humanity. Except there isn’t really a linear scale, it’s a squiggly line with all sorts of peaks and troughs and detours and tangents.

      Games like this have the potential to give people, yes those people already open to the concept, a different angle to consider.

      By way of example, I’ve always considered myself, over many years, to be quite vocal, active, and distressed by unequal pay. Someone quite recently suggested that rather than look at the issue as one of “women aren’t paid enough, we should raise their pay to equal men” one could rather say “men are paid too much, we should lower their pay to equal women” because the former treats men as the default standard and women as the abnormality – only by swapping the argument around does this aspect become clear.

      That suggestion could have come from a game, from writing, or from a conversation, I can’t recall. Either way, it gave me a new way of looking at the same problem that wasn’t just a case of polishing my white knight armour or adding extra bristles to my hair shirt.

      • gwathdring says:

        For my purposes, I don’t feel like what was described brings a perspective to the fore that I haven’t seen particularly often before. My experience isn’t everyone’s but it’s about all I’ve got.

        Speaking of reversals, I think part of my problem can be summed up with a very similar form to the one you presented. Rather than the problem being the over-objectification of women–which seems to be an almost anti-sexual idea from some perspectives–I see (both relative to men and, I feel, in a more absolute sense) that women are not amply subjectified in our media or are primarily subjectified in ways that reinforce their lower social status.

        While it is interesting to point out that exactly the same happens for men, I feel this can get kind of thorny and chicken-egg like so I don’t want to distract from my main point: Objectification is not our enemy. Rather, subjectification is our friend.

        It’s not that I think no one can learn anything from the game; it’s that I don’t think on the whole it provides a perspective that is particularly novel to an audience particularly in need of learning that message and further I’m not sure it’s a message I’m personally aligned with either. It’s possible I’m misreading this of coruse, but that’s my impression.

  16. The Army of None says:

    Thank you for the trigger warning, it is appreciated.

    • tormos says:

      and this is the thing about trigger warnings (which someone was complaining about on twitter). It takes 0 effort and if it helps make 1 person feel not bad that’s obviously worth it, given that it has no cost to anyone else.

      • daphne says:

        I also appreciated that Cara actually went the length to write actual sentences. Many blogs, feminist blogs included, just discard the whole thing with something like (for instance) “TW: Rape” which feels like some sort of politically correct processed food nutrition sticker.

  17. Sharky70 says:

    Oh my, this was awful. That third paragraph, was painful to read. I feel you’re one of the reasons why people don’t take women in gaming seriously, because you seem to call attention to something that people are already well aware of, and are so obnoxious about it. Not only that, but real gamers™ are mostly not your typical misogynistic males. Your call of duty fans aren’t real gamers™, they’re your run of the mill trash that you are targeting, and I can guarantee you most of them don’t visit RPS, and most definitely wouldn’t end up at this article. If you want to be a feminist, fine. Please, don’t do it here, we know already. I stopped coming to RPS when that one article complained about the interview with the WoW developers about the supposed “skimpy” clothing they used, and then the 2nd article about them crying about it. It’s just sad, you’re trying too hard RPS. If you want to talk feminism, go to something that actually needs your help, try being an activist who helps NFL cheerleaders get a living wage, they need it.

    • AngelTear says:

      I don’t know how you define “real gamers”, but I can assure you that a good chunk of people who play games are heavily misogynistic, and even those who are not extremely so, still often treat women differently, as lesser gamers, and some behaviors are unconsciously acquired, and unquestioned until pointed out, and that goes for everyone of us.

      Also, I don’t think people are as aware as you say they are. Judging from certain comment sections here on RPS, they don’t always seem to be, and RPS is actually one of the better places by now, because the worst part of the crowd has already left because “John is a white knight” and “You were about games once, now you’re just feminist”.

      They are games journalists, they occasionally post about feminist issues in relation to games, your NFL example is completely irrelevant, and so is your intimation to go elsewhere.
      “We won here, nothing to see, move along”.

      I actually enjoy these articles even if I consider myself a feminist, and even if I don’t have to be convinced about anything, or if I already knew about the themes they talk about.

    • wu wei says:

      real gamers™ are mostly not your typical misogynistic males

      Ah yes, the classic “no true Scotsman” fallacy. No denialist rant would be complete without it.

      I can guarantee you most of them don’t visit RPS, and most definitely wouldn’t end up at this article

      So you’re clearly not reading the comments to any of these articles then?

      I stopped coming to RPS

      But felt compelled to come back and whine some more? Next time, do us all a favour and don’t.

      If you want to talk feminism, go to something that actually needs your help

      Sound advice coming from someone whose idea of activism is fallacious comments criticising others. Nice fallacy of relative privation, btw, I think that makes gives me bingo.

    • RedViv says:

      Apathy that enables and validates ignorance is the biggest threat to progress, far more difficult to calculate in, and really exhausting to counter. It is also exactly what you are making a big show of here.

    • steviebops says:

      NFL cheerleaders are the only other feminist cause? Gotcha, will do.

      Sorry Malala Yousafzai, get some fucking pom-poms, then we’ll see.

    • blobb says:

      I used to visit this site a lot. Not anymore, mostly because of this nonsense being endlessly posted.

  18. MrFinnishDude says:

    Well, when I punch prostitutes in GTA for example, I don’t punch them because they are women, half naked, or prostitutes. I punch them because it’s fun to punch people in video games.
    And the article didn’t consider that Saints Row has female gangster protagonists.

  19. KaiWren says:

    I really enjoyed this piece, and I’ll definitely be looking at the other work Increpare has put out – I’ve never heard of him so I learned something new! That’s cool.

    The only thing I’d disagree with is the comment on Bayonetta. She looks beautiful, yes, but there are elements of the character design (particularly glasses and hairstyle) which are intended to make her look like a woman of intellect and class. This is also born out in the game proper, where she is not only depicted as ridiculously powerful (fetishistically so!) but also intelligent and witty.

    I realize it is a controversial game and a lot of people don’t like the particular take on an overtly sexual and liberated woman, but I loved Bayonetta because she’s one of the only female video game protagonists who is put in control throughout her game and who is entirely comfortable with her sexual identity. Contrast Lara Croft, who is deprotagonized from the start and is sexually assaulted with no real effort made to address that attack, or Samus Aran who is either completely beholden to a man, or hidden behind androgynous armor so that her femininity is not offensively on display to the viewer.

    I don’t consider Saints Row or similar ‘sandbox’ protagonists really good examples of feminine leads, either, because the fact they are women is hardly ever reflected in the dialogue. Saints Row was particularly egregious in this because apparently my female boss demands stripper polls and T&A everywhere.

    • AngelTear says:

      All you say is true, but then again, I remember the lead designer on Bayonetta saying that they made her that way, sexually attractive etc. to attract more men to the game. That statement alone was enough to not make me buy the game, actually. You don’t find that she’s witty or intelligent until you play the game, but she’s still used as a sexual object to drive sales in the first place.

      She could be witty and intelligent and classy without being super-sexy. She doesn’t need to be particularly ugly, just, you know, normal, average. (not that there’s anything wrong with being beautiful or sexy, but not all people in real life are perfect models, and yet all women in videogames are). All the marketing material made sure to show all her moves in which you could catch a glimpse of her almost naked etc.

      • wu wei says:

        As much as I enjoyed playing Bayonetta, it is kind of creepy when you realise her clothing is actually her hair..

      • RedViv says:

        Might you be merging statements on the principles of her design here? The way the character designer tells it, the core principle behind B’s design was to make her the ultimate feminine action hero, with only individual modellers ever commenting on how they obsessed over getting individual body parts just right in being sexy as they are. Which also fuels her otherworldly femininity – she draws power from sexiness, and each of her parts as taken alone seems damn gorgeous, but the whole package should take the beholder aback once the entire design is observed. She does not move like any human, but like a witch with those proportions would. She acts like a person who just bloody owns their attractiveness, their whole body. That’s what makes her ultimately very appealing.

      • EveryoneIsWrong says:

        “She could be witty and intelligent and classy without being super-sexy.”

        I strongly disagree, but I think you mean that she could’ve been witty and intelligent and classy without being super sexualized. So ultimately I think we are in agreement and I am just being silly about something semantic.

      • KaiWren says:

        But if she was, she wouldn’t feel as empowering for me to play as; she is an overtly sexual character, and if she weren’t as sexualized … well, she’d certainly lose something in the portrayal, I think. She’s a powerful woman who takes control in a sexual way without actually being a dominatrix (and thus getting mired in those particular thorny issues), and that’s rare.

        I guess its fine to take issue with the developer’s intentions, but as with any art, the audience reads into it too. And the message I got from Bayonetta was a lot more empowering than any other glitzy action game I can remember in years.

        Plus the actual game is good, which always helps.

      • gwathdring says:

        And this is exactly why I posted elsewhere about my problems with speaking out against “sexual objectification” itself. It becomes anti-sexual which isn’t liberating for anybody, not even women.

        It’s that “Blech, they gave her large breasts” response. How tacky of them, right? That’s … do you see the problem? Now we’re shaming creators and their characters whenever sexually appealing women turn up–in particular when sexualization is the intent. You do see why that’s counterproductive right? That doesn’t protect women from oppressive gender roles, that doesn’t protect men form problematic aspects of their generally empowering gender roles, that doesn’t help anyone. It just generates buckets of shame whenever sex and sexy crop up without addressing the core troubles at the heart of how we use sex and sexy and where and why.

        She could have been witty and intelligent but less sexy? Sure. She could also be witty, intelligent and sexy. This kind of sexual avoidance is the express elevator to slut shaming, and it’s a problem.

  20. vai90 says:

    “I’d like to point out that this game (…) contains depictions of violence against women and addresses issues of sexual assault. If this might trigger or distress you in any way, I’d recommend to take care in reading this (…).”

    So how does John feel about this?
    Tee-hee.

  21. cpt_freakout says:

    Good read, thanks. I like how the ‘mechanics’ of the game are incredibly simple, incredibly banal, just like objectification is. And like objectification, solving puzzles is a matter of mastery, of a certain kind of dominion over images that often elicits, I think, a sense of security, of having our thoughts coincide with ‘how the world is’. It’s terrifying how common and how ingrained in culture is that constant search for mastery, and I think it’s one of the core principles of most of the videogames we play. That’s also what I like from all the stuff usually called non-games; they’re games, they’re just not about power, which confuses most of us who have grown up endlessly playing something or other with power as its main directive, and who have grown up to look up to people who have ‘won’ at that game “IRL” and constantly fuck everyone else over. What gives me hope is that with enough care for so-called non-games (and games brutally honest about their power drive like Striptease), and with enough care to make people take videogames as seriously as you do, we might be seeing some gradual changes over the coming generations. Again, thanks for keeping this column up, even with all the flak from the comments section you usually get.

  22. steviebops says:

    These bots are better when the figure is realistic, I mean c’mon, try a little harder.
    $500 a month, that seems a bit more realistic.

    You can do it botscum!

  23. steviebops says:

    Relationships and sex are all well and good, but what about love?

    Is anyone making games about love and romance that don’t suck ass?

    • gwathdring says:

      To me, romance is just a socialized fiction surrounding sex and for some people that socialized fiction combines with specific relationship context or more general asexual experience to become an existence unto it’s own. Romance is such a prescribed and socialized mode that it is already somewhat shallow and gamified; romantic gestures generally follow certain rules and expectations. Romance is courtship. It is, no matter how valuable to it’s partakers and no matter how important the relationship onto which it is attached, generally somewhat shallow and again gamified. I can see a great many interesting game concepts surrounding that, and some of them actually show up in games (and are promptly criticized for how shallow they are which, while valid mechanically and in certain other ways, is nonetheless somewhat amusing to me because at least some of the perceived shallowness is present in real-world romance, too).

      Perhaps you mean something else though. Something more ephemeral and spiritual. Or perhaps you mean that you want to see better representation for people who extent into the asexual spectrum.

      Or perhaps you’re unintentionally erasing the sexual element inherent in romance.

      Or perhaps you’re asking for, quite simply, more robust relationships in games.

      I’m not sure. What do you mean by love and romance?

      • steviebops says:

        True depth, interpersonal connections. Stories where romance is the story, not the endgame.

        For all it’s done, Bioware still seems to have an almost transparent romace-o-meter.

        float love = 0;
        love = (giftvalue * bias) + saynicethings;

        It’s an RPG stat there, with the player able to calculate a tipping point.

        Romance is a socialized fiction, if manners, freedom, law, equality, faith et al are too.

        Love is even better imho, as if you have it, it’s real. There’s no need to argue the existence of something, or even worry about brain chemical states, it’s the last purely personal notion to me.

        • gwathdring says:

          Interesting. :)

          I would love to seem more stories about relationships in games. I think it’s a tough ask of games with action-oriented mechanics, though. Bioware does a lot better than most games, I feel.

          Transparent or not–why is that important? It’s transparent to us, the player. Is it so to the characters? That’s a tougher question. Games abstract things. If we want to flesh out and deepen relationships, they need to be the mechanical focus not just the narrative focus. Likewise if we want better narratives, narrative needs to be mechanical not just an adjunct to mechanics. But if we want running, jumping, climbing tress–very *visual* tasks–to be the center of our mechanics … well, suddenly we have less time, room and money (and design potential … more subsystems means a harder time fitting them together coherently) to put into relationships and such.

          I think games like Save the Date and a lot of other IF games do an excellent job encapsulating this. Even Telltale only gets so far into making this kind of thing work, and that should be our cue.

          The best way to get mechanics that deal with relationships is to invoke social mechanics. Bring in other players. I think tabletop RPGs are the heart and soul of relationship gaming, as such. There are any number of other ways to get multiple players creating social feedback into the system, too, so that’s not the only way to go about it. But it’s the lest abstract way to end up with engaging, relationship-driven narrative. I’m not saying video games can never do it. But it’s a much tougher ask of a video game designer than of a tabletop RPG designer.

          Side note: all those things you listed ARE socialized fictions. I didn’t mean to imply this makes them bad or unimportant. But consider the difficulty of taking something that is already a high-level abstraction, parsing it into game mechanics and then trying to get it to resonate meaningfully out the other end. It’s like taking a sentence through bablefish twice–english-finnish, finnish-english say–and trying to get it to be equally meaningful both times. It can be difficult to convey certain ideas in such a sentence and it can be quite hard to come up with any such sentence to begin with!

          Plenty of games succeed at that … but I feel most of them succeed by misdirecting or by yet-further abstraction rather than by direct presentation. I don’t think we can have games where relationships are both mechanically central, they feel like real relationships, and they convey meaningful things about relationships all at once. Papers Please is a nice example of misdirection, and Bioware’s Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins are nice examples of games where relationships are mechanically weak and don’t feel like real relationships but nonetheless communicate meaningful things about the characters, the world, and the relationships themselves.

          • gwathdring says:

            Could you provide some context? I don’t make a habit of reading random links presented with non-sequitur one-liners.

          • Hahaha says:

            Nope you can google “a rape in cyberspace” if you have any intrest (was kinda a big thing in the MUD world think RPS might of even touched on it)

          • gwathdring says:

            Why are you so insistent on not having conversations? You keep referring people to Google.

            Sure, I could google it if I cared about it. But I’m interested in why you think it’s relevant to this conversation because I’m interested in what YOU have to say about it. I could spend my time googling a great many things and before I put my effort into this one instead of something else I’d like to know why it is relevant to this particular conversation. Further, I’m curious as to what you, someone who shared enough interests with me to reach into this part of the conversation but who is otherwise probably a lot different from me being a stranger and all (not to mention explicitly disagreeing with me elsewhere int he discussion), have to say about it.

            If I wanted to google it, I would google it. I wanted to talk about it in the context of this conversation, so I instead asked you about it. You could always not respond or say you don’t really have anything to say about it, but referring me to google is quite besides the point.

          • Hahaha says:

            Becasue it was an offhand comment to your multiplayer relationship based games that I don’t feel the need to expand on, if you want to know more you can either google and look at the wiki for a quick oversight or you can read the link.

          • gwathdring says:

            Ok. : I still think that’s a shame, but have it your way.

            As offhand comments go, without context, yours is the equivalent of showing everyone a picture of this time someone TP’d your neighbors house because we were talking about paper products. I was hoping you would provide additional context as to why you thought it was relevant that rape and rape analogs can occur in gamified spaces other than the painfully obvious note that consent is an important part of social mechanics. Hoping you would provide some insight and useful discussion worth having.

      • Big Murray says:

        You sound like an amazing lover.

        • gwathdring says:

          I really don’t understand why you think that makes any sense, let alone what you hope to accomplish by saying it.

          O.o

          • steviebops says:

            I wouldn’t want to know what they mean.

          • gwathdring says:

            You don’t want to know what they mean by that? What does THAT mean? I would think what they mean by that is obvious.

  24. Dave Tosser says:

    Crivvens, RPS. It’s always bemused me how articles on things that a very vocal portion of the commentariat supposedly doesn’t care about/wants to see less off always get significantly more comments and draw out a much stronger reaction than any day-to-day game stuff.

    Some of youse need to learn the highly valuable skill of ignoring things you don’t like. Why not visit some of the other, commentlorn articles on this site? Why, you could even leave your opinions there and they won’t just be “Grr I don’t like this thing are you aware of this RPS because it’s really important even if my inexplicable anger won’t sway your policy on this one bit”
    You know, like I do.

  25. Sunjammer says:

    This is a pitiful comment and I feel vaguely ashamed for typing it, but I’d just like to point out that men in games are rarely more than mantelpieces with nothing to say as well. Games tend to treat all characters in such a way. Even in a game like Spec Ops The Line, a game with a very explicit agenda, the actual lead character is sort of a cipher at best, with the actual events of the game’s entire arc probably being what the designers thought meaningful.

    The character/avatar is just a cursor, isn’t it? It seems odd, to me, to want game designers to focus on giving the player character such stand-alone heft, when the player’s actions through her should be what dictates.

    • gwathdring says:

      I completely agree, and don’t find your comment pitiful. I think focusing on objectification leaves us with many problems. For one thing it dilutes very real messages about problematic gender portrayals and specifically the low-status portrayals of women.

      Second it removes focus from the ways in which objectification is subverted (when it is at all) and how that differers between the genders.

      Third it turns the message from women should be subjectified more robustly to women should be objectified less which is an awkward case to make at best.

      Fourth, as you point out, it belies the idea that objectification is an inherent cornerstone of many mechanical systems in games and that subjectification is often utterly undesirable. As such we need to find ways to encourage player decisions and choices that are less problematically gendered. We need to structure systems that are less problematically gendered and tell stories that are less problematically gendered. None of this requires us to stop having sexy characters or objectified avatars.

      • SuperFrog says:

        @gwathdring, you make an awful lot of sense in your postings in this thread; it is rare to see someone pushing clear ideas in this domain and you are clearly aware of much of the research on the subject.
        Writing about it anywhere else?
        Thanks for the ‘reject subjectification more than objectification’ line; it is one I have been known to defend but I did not have it in such a concise form.

        • gwathdring says:

          I have a Tumblr.

          Tumblr is an odd place. It’s just a convenient blog format for talking with friends about stuff in an informal way while occasionally producing content for strangers as well. It’s a very social format and people treat it as such … and yet it’s become a stand-in for everything that’s wrong with modern youth liberalism. Both because the thoughtless middle and right are thoughtless and because the thoughtful left realized it can gain legitimacy by throwing an entire social media system under the bus as an offhand gesture of good-faith. :( Blech.

          It’s a place where a lot of people feel safe and that results both in and from a very “politically correct” culture and that gets mocked to no end because political correctness is next to only eloquence as a sign of Evil Communism or whatever … even though specifics of implementation aside it’s nothing more or less than the idea of caring about how other people feel and your role in their feelings.

          But in any case, I don’t really write much about this sort of thing outside Internet discussions (here for example). Tumblr is just an excuse to share stuff with friends I don’t have time to talk to on a regular basis, occasionally spout words about designs I’m working on or design in general, and post lots of pictures of googly eyes. Also waffles.

          • kfix says:

            We must get you fired up more often then ;-)

          • joa says:

            Tumblr is mocked because it exemplifies thoughtless adherence to ideology and liberal censorship. Also, a lot of the ideologies on display on Tumblr cross the line into total lunacy – people who believe they are animals, people who believe they have multiple other people living inside their head, and the liberals who are so PC they wouldn’t dare question any of it.

          • kfix says:

            liberal censorship

            Ok, I am not a USAian, so I’m sure I’m missing some horrible perversion of the mother tongue here, but how is liberal censorship not a contradiction? Do you mean not liking people saying nasty things in response to other nasty things? That’s not censorship, and not really liberal either.

          • joa says:

            I’m British but I interpret censorship more widely than “government suppression of nice things we like”. It’s still censorship if what is being censored is considered to be mean, sexist, racist, homophobic or whatever.

            It’s still censorship if people are forced to censor themselves for fear of losing their livelihoods, and being on the receiving end of endless harassment and death threats. All of which have happened to people espousing opinions that don’t line up with Tumblr-approved ones (and even to people who have said the wrong thing out of ignorance).

            Call it what you want but it’s not acceptable either way.

          • kfix says:

            Harassment and death threats are just that. They are not censorship, which is government or official suppression of speech or expression. And all of these things are the literal opposite of liberal.

          • gwathdring says:

            Tumblr is a social media platform. Find me a large-scale social media platform that doesn’t have cliques and that doesn’t have harassment and I’ll dub you the Wizard of Oz and kow-tow accordingly.

            Tumblr has many, many, many cliques. There is no one Tumblr culture. There are some interesting ways in which one could compare it to other social media platforms but as far as I can tell the most interesting thing you have to say about it, joa, is “Ewwww. Crazy people.”

            As for political correctness being censorship: I’m done with that bullshit. I have no time or patience or decorum left in me for that kind of utter nonsense. You talk about reactions and shouting and stubbed toes and it all amounts to this: you want people to let you make mistakes without calling you on it. You want to be able to make people feel bad without calling you on it. I have no patience left in me for the political correctness gone made bullshit. That is you being inconsiderate. That is you saying your right to make people feel like shit exceeds their right to tell you to take it somewhere else. That’s. Shit. If you say something that offends me in a space where I have at least as much right to be as you do .. how the flying fuck is it censorship for me to ask you–or even tell you–not to say such things in my presence? Staying silent is a passive thing; you can break that silence later. Speech is not passive. It is active. Speech invades and infiltrates. Silence does not. Asking you to not say certain things, not use certain words, not perform certain actions in certain spaces? That’s the bread and fucking butter of organized society. Political correctness is the exact same machinery that prevents us from killing each other and stealing each other’s crap, applied to emotional and psychological states rather than physical and property states.

            You don’t get to equate that with the systems of oppressive, active censorship that have haunted many a dissident in many a fucked up country. You don’t get to equate that with warrant-less wiretaps and FCC fines. Doing that is making everything about you. It’s putting your own ego at the center of the universe and saying “But what about my right to say things I want to say?” No. Just. No. That’s not an excuse for antagonizing people. That’s not an excuse for hurting people. That’s not an excuse for refusing to cooperate with other people. And you don’t get to pretend that saying otherwise is supported some kind of hierarchical censorship. That’s what *you’re* supporting. You’re supporting the idea that it doesn’t matter how personally offended and injured people are by what you say–you get to fire that verbal machine gun into a crowd.

            Your two examples of Tumblr people sounded like a list of DSM diagnoses. I suppose all of those porn blogs and food blogs are run by liberals with Dissociative Identity disorder and … people who believe they’re animals? That’s the most incoherent, ridiculous attack on Tumblr culture I’ve ever seen. I could do much better for you: one of the problems with archetypal Tubmlr culture is that it tends to come from the Bill-Mahr-meets-the-Me-generation school of Progressive Democrat behavior wherein hard-won, well-though-out liberal ideas are reduced to simplified digests and then followed with zeal aplenty and little thought. Of course, that defines *pretty much all of politics ever* in including the Young Republican and Young Libertarian and Tea Party movements and Tumblr is, again, much more about fandoms and porn and youth culture than it is about social politics. You actually implied that part of the problem with Tumblr is that it’s inclusive and not judgmental enough. I cannot deal with you. Your blinders are on so tight, your eyeballs are flying out of your ass.

            You don’t own these spaces. Neither does the other “side” of whatever space you’re in, sure. But that means you have to give-way and listen and be a decent human being–not that you should get to say whatever you want because you’ve internalized the most simplistic, anti-social version of the philosophy of free speech imaginable. Shame and “censorship” as you describe it are fundamental structures. They define our entire society–even the bits that aren’t “PC.” Those people who are “too PC?” A lot of those people are far more inclusive and use far less shame and censorship than people who blather on about the trials and tribulations of political correctness. Because they tend to “censor” harsh judgement and attacks against underpowered identities.

            We’re not all on an equal playing field; we don’t all feel like we have the same rights to talk because society already uses the tools you so blindly and foolishly limit to “political correctness” to stamp down and oppress many, many people who do not have equal voice to their peers as a result. When you argue for free speech unimpeded by political correctness you are making the mistake of pretending that we’re all equal and we all have equal voice. This. Is. Not. True.

            The saddest part is that you’re most likely going to see the merest outline of my statement–the anger, the general political alignment, the word “Tumblr” and “politically correct” and utterly fail to hear the argument here. I hope that I’m wrong and I hope that you’ll take this post-script as a challenge to surprise me and meet me as a civil equal even as I run out of patience to do likewise. Odds are the only part of this challenge you will muster is the “civll” part and you’ll look down on my brusqueness as though it invalidates the intellectual content around which I could not help but be passionate given the context and the stakes and the long history I have with them. Hopefully, I’ll be wrong.

          • kfix says:

            Wow. What a marvellous wordvalanche. I’m almost inclined to thank joa for provoking it, just so I could enjoy it.

            Almost, but not.

            [edit: speling]

  26. Dthen says:

    I don’t have much to say about the article itself, but I think one or two of Cara’s tweets were somewhat unprofessional.

  27. MellowKrogoth says:

    The description of the game is fine, but your analysis or explanation of it is a bit confused, I feel. I probably didn’t understand your points correctly but I’ll answer as if I did:

    First you criticize how men or society in general treat women. With the example being a stripper, i.e. a woman who exploits her own body and men’s passions to make some cash. Not sure that’s the best example? As far as I understand there’s no implication in the game that she’s forced to do this.

    Then you say that rape is a bad thing. I don’t think anyone will disagree with you (ok, some scum will unfortunately).

    You then move on to video games using women mostly as props… and your example is a game like GTA set in the criminal underworld, not exactly known for its fair treatment of women? And then you move to games not having enough female protagonists. Probably? But while a male hero being beat up and then exacting revenge is pretty easy to show on screen, a woman being captured and raped and then exacting revenge is way touchier to show without angering someone, including feminist and non-feminist women. Hence, you usually end up with women protagonists who are basically men except for the looks.

    All in all, I felt your ideas were pretty disconnected, and the arguments and examples unconvincing. Not trying to discourage you though, I’m sure you can do better.

    • Mathias says:

      ‘I will first address you on equal footing, ignoring the context and each our relation to it, what’s more I am even lowering myself to get to eye level with you. And I think you should feel lucky, as I will expend my precious time to give you some words of my advice which you desperately seem to need.

      I then blame you in bringing up a central piece of content from the work at hand which I myself feel very insecure about. But it also lets me start shifting the focus from the actual topic of the work and the writing, really to hamper that this piece is trying to give wider access to the work discussed.

      Interjecting now that I, of course, can wash my hands and am of good conscience. The use of infantile vocabulary only serves to remind others what language to use when speaking to one position of your position, of course, never to belittle the atrocity at hand.

      I then pick up on two minor points in the piece that were used for illustration but which make me feel weirdly threatened. I’ve run out of energy to openly dispense, though, so I shut down one with only a rhetoric half sentence veiled as question–you should really be able to answer this yourself; and the other with a half agreement but construing a logic that should make you realize how unpractical it is. Obviously someone is so out of touch and out of her depth.

      Let me close in the most patronizing and condescending way I could think of.’

      Really? Please check yourself, mate.

  28. Phier says:

    I enjoy RPS for the gaming news, I’m not caring for it so much in terms of the social commentary lately. The term “Patriarchy” should never end up in a gaming thread unless that happens to be the name of the game.

    • kfix says:

      Are there any other words you would prefer that we avoid? I mean, we wouldn’t want to make you feel unwelcome or anything.

    • Mathias says:

      Indeed, gaming is not culturally relevant enough, and should never be, for any larger societal topics at hand to matter in its context. After all, it’s just for kids. In that sense, as I identify as a gamer, please stop treating your audience as grown people and go back to patronizing me.

  29. bp_968 says:

    So I have a few questions/observations: 1, why is stripping viewed so negatively by secular feminists? I’m Christian so I have a reason (and so do many other religious groups) to consider stripping an inappropriate activity, but I have to be honest, most of the strippers I’ve met seem to enjoy the very large income they had.(when I was younger and when my cousin was a DJ at a “club”. He didn’t have any moral hang ups about the lifestyle, lol). Now I never visited any of the really trashy places so maybe there full of abused and mistreated women.

    The other observation is that I don’t really see the level of male verbal “abuse” so many people are talking about. The cat calls, the rude inuindos, and general crappy behavior. My wife also doesn’t see it. Maybe we just don’t hang out at the places where such stuff usually occurs (bars, frat parties, etc). I participate in some reasonably male dominated sports (kayaking, climbing, shooting) and all the women I’ve talked to say how included they feel participating in the sport and how great everyone is. Maybe it’s just a southern thing and our nice to turd ratio is higher then average?

    My last observation is the talk of people being cruel in online games. Sorry but I think that’s just the way it is. Male or female we all get endless streams of hate gushed out of the voice channels. It’s the main reason I don’t bother to even turn voice on in “general/public” games anymore. History has proven that the general “baseline” for humanity is abject cruelty at its best and outright horrific at its worst.

    I think focusing on how mean online gamers are to women, or blacks, or whatever is missing the mark and will only generate very polarized arguments. Instead we should try to figure out how to foster communities with less vitriol and hate being spewed out in general, regardless the target. I’m not sure how feasible that will be in games like COD, CS, Battlefield, etc that involve killing people in mass (and being killed in mass, lol) but we can try I guess.

    • gwathdring says:

      The other observation is that I don’t really see the level of male verbal “abuse” so many people are talking about.

      Street harassment is definitely not overblown. Different places feel differently about it, though. Just like any social phenomenon it’s exact extent depends on the broader social context. It’s not that Southern people are nicer. It’s that the kind of people who would perform street harassment elsewhere are encouraged to behave differently where you live (or that you’re just one of many people who happen not to encounter it; it’s a big world–even things that are relatively common can be missed entirely by quite a few people without anything being amiss with causality ;) ). As an example, my girlfriend has noticed that walking with a group in LA seems to make a difference in the frequency of street harassment, whereas when I was in St. Paul, walking with a group made no difference something that surprised fellow west coasters who had a history with street harassment.

      In any case, street harassment doesn’t happen to everybody and isn’t performed by everybody, but it is a robust cultural phenomenon nonetheless. I’m not surprised you experience less of it for two reasons: participating in a male dominated sport–presuming you’re accepted to begin with–makes you part of the cadre. You’re one of the group; sure harassment can still happen in such settings but part of the reason street harassment is so brazen has to do with the rules. You don’t have a pre-existing rule-set with the people at the corner of 5th-and-what’s-it so they go by higher-level scripts. On a team or in a sport … you have something in common. You have more of a rule-set already established as to how you treat each other.

      I would also note that from what I can gather, southern gender roles are slightly different. It would be foolish to pretend this made the south less sexist, but it’s worth noting that (however much power it holds over this or that part of the south), there is a strong sense that gentility and politeness and hospitality is a southern trait. That decorum must be followed. There is a more restrictive script even between strangers. Caution, though: I’m sure plenty of people in the south do not share your experience.

      Instead we should try to figure out how to foster communities with less vitriol and hate being spewed out in general, regardless the target. I’m not sure how feasible that will be in games like COD, CS, Battlefield, etc that involve killing people in mass (and being killed in mass, lol) but we can try I guess.

      I see them as two parts of the same pursuit. We cannot foster more mature communities if we don’t understand what causes them to be immature. We can set guidelines and try to be strict about them, but we need to know what guidelines to set so as to keep people from being made to feel uncomfortable.

      Consider this. It’s easy to tell people not to swear and not to use slurs. How do we enforce that? People will insist certain words aren’t slurs or aren’t gendered even when they clearly are so we have to have a no-tolerance policy rather than a case-by-case policy. There are too many gamers and too many fuzzy bits. But in writing that no tolerance policy, where do we start? Be excellent to each other works only on a case-by-case basis. Again, that’s too messy and slow to work in online gaming even if it works on the forums to a point. Every community operates by a series of rules and expectations. We can try to just hope we make a game that only nice people play, or we can have a zero tolerance policy and a really well thought out ruleset. Thinking out that rule set well requires understanding how and why people are mean to each other–including focusing on power differentials like sexism and racism.

      So I have a few questions/observations: 1, why is stripping viewed so negatively by secular feminists?

      As you yourself note, there are a lot of bad places to work in the sex industry. There are a lot of people in it who are mistreated or coerced. There are people who enjoy it or even feel empowered by it, but that doesn’t magically equalize or erase the other side of the issue. Sex workers are shamed from all sides–by parts of the left that look down on them with paternalistic pity, by parts of the social and religious right that look down on them as immoral and hedonistic and by some of their clients who may well be part of the two former groups or some other group that looks down on sex work or might be drunk or just generally rude. Bear in mind that because of how society perceives stripping (and for that matter, men and women and their more general sexual roles), you’re already selecting for both performers and clientèle less affected by certain aspects of socio-sexual norms. This creates a lot of interesting problems … the relationship between a history of sexual mistreatment and work in the sex industry is thorny one because while extant, examining it puts us again in that awkward position where a lot of incautious people of any political persuasion will make this about judging sex workers and their customers rather than the systems that make their roles and relationships unhealthy.

      So … it’s complicated. The short answer, though, is still two fold: some of it is “slut shaming” and some of it is a recognition of the way stripping reinforces existing sexual roles for men and women and causes problems as a result.

      But frankly, I don’t like the tone of you question. You have a reason for disliking stripping and disapproving of the lifestyle. What is it? Religious or not, it sure as heck better be more complicated than “my preacher/bible/mother/father told me so.” No matter what you believe in, it should provide you more useful guidance than “X is bad, don’t worry about why.” I’m certain you DO have reasons or at least rationalizations for having a problem with that lifestyle … so why is it hard for you to understand secular feminists feeling likewise?

      The tone of your question seems insincere whether or not it is in actual fact. It seems like a backhanded strike at secular feminists. “Well *I* have a good reason not to like it, but *they* don’t because they’re godless so clearly they’re hypocrites or something.” That’s the feeling I can’t escape while reading your question. Hopefully you can clarify your statement in a way that alleviates that feeling.

      • joa says:

        Feminist views on stripping provide a pretty good refutation of the gender-as-social-construct idea, along with a whole other bunch of issues on which feminists are divided. There’s an inherent contradiction there. However many advances in feminism there have been over the years, women still get off on stripping, and men still get off on watching. The “you’re brainwashed and it’s all a social construct” narrative begins to seem a little patronizing.

        • kfix says:

          Wait a minute. I think you just said that an issue on which feminists (and others) are divided provides some support for your theory that behavioural traits are evolutionarily/biologically determined and divergent along gender lines. Which kind of implies that women should think alike on the issue (sorry, “get off on stripping”). Except you just said that feminists, some of whom are women, are divided on the issue. What?

          • joa says:

            Abstract thought and basic desires are different animals though. If someone steps on my foot I want to shout at them. No amount of cultural or social influence is going to change that response. But then I can use the power of thought to realise it was an accident. That’s the learned social part.

            The thrill or power women feel (I don’t exactly – I’m not a woman) when they strip in front of men is akin to getting your foot stepped on (but in a positive way). The arguments that happen after are a product of more abstract thought where cultural and social influence comes into play. You see it a fair amount in feminist writing “X is problematic because of reasons Y and Z, but I still enjoy X”; it’s quite sad that they see X as a social construct that wouldn’t exist in an “ideal world”, when in fact X is a fundamental part of their biological identity.

          • kfix says:

            This seems to me to be a more reasonable set of propositions than what I was describing as your essentialism, but it also seems to be a little at odds with what you were writing earlier – I could be wrong on that.

            I don’t think you are justified in drawing such a definitive line that says the “thrill or power” of eliciting sexual desire in another is purely a “basic desire” that only then gets analysed in arrears – I’m not aware of any research or solid theoretical framework that makes such a clear distinction. Nonetheless, it’s probably more basic in some meaningful way than a higher level analysis.

            But that doesn’t make it any more acceptable or right to say that because women feel some kind of thrill when eliciting sexual desire in men that it’s ok to have exploitative industries set up around the industrial provision of sexual satisfaction to men but not (except in trivial exceptions) to women, or that it’s acceptable or right to extort the labour of women through economic or physical pressure to serve in those industries.

            Stripping is problematic not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with the act of performing to get someone horny. There are a few sex-negative types who might disagree (some feminist, some religious, some just boring as shit), but it would be a horrible straw-feminist to suggest that’s the problem with stripping. The problem with stripping is the assumption that only women should perform for the satisfaction of only men, or the horrible exploitation that goes on in so many sex-related industries.

            “X is problematic because of reasons Y and Z, but I still enjoy X”; it’s quite sad that they see X as a social construct that wouldn’t exist in an “ideal world”, when in fact X is a fundamental part of their biological identity.

            Before I use up all the words, I would think in this construction that it’s Y and Z that wouldn’t exist in an ideal world, and again I question your ability to be quite so definite in your opinion as to what is fundamentally biological. I hope one day we can get to a point where we can have a definite opinion, but there is a reasonable line of thought that emergent behaviour is going to prove impossible to describe deterministically.

            TL;DR: is != ought

    • kfix says:

      1, why is stripping viewed so negatively by secular feminists?

      To the reply above I’d also add – it’s not like there is uniformity of opinion on this. There are plenty of examples of reasonably serious arguments to the effect that stripping (generally the flavour called burlesque to make it sound classier) can be a positive expression or reclaiming of female sexuality. I’m not sure I completely buy this argument but it shouldn’t be dismissed without serious consideration.

      I don’t really see the level of male verbal “abuse” so many people are talking about … Maybe it’s just a southern thing

      I’m assuming you mean southern US because you bothered to mention that you are Christian. I’m from Australia where no one much cares.

      I don’t see a lot of male verbal abuse just walking down the street either, nor at bars or Uni balls – that’s frat parties for civilised people :-). But although that may just be my male privilege letting me ignore what’s going on around me, I also don’t think that too many people are too concerned about that when compared to the more subtle behaviours and biases that are built in to many (all?) of our institutions, customs and practices. Saying that you don’t see overt rudeness therefore women have nothing to complain about is a bit of an irrelevancy.

      (Not to say that I haven’t also seen some absolutely appalling abusive behaviour, just that it’s not in my everyday experience either)

      • gwathdring says:

        Excellent points. :)

        It is somewhat sad though, how much effort is spent just fighting for visibility; there are so many women whose daily experience IS explicit sexism and while there are many other more subtle effects of problematic gender roles, it is a shame that it takes so much struggle to get people to believe in unseen sexism but so little effort for them to believe in unseen radicalism on the part of feminists. Though, coming full circle, that itself is one of the more subtle and powerful effects of feminism. When it comes to anecdotes, we will, on the whole, take the one that denies sexism toward women and points out the worries of men.

        • kfix says:

          On the one hand, yes it’s sad. On the other hand, without the cognitive biases that make this sort of thing inevitable we probably couldn’t live with ourselves. So, yay stupid primate brains I suppose.

          Anyway, what productive things would you be doing if you weren’t arguing with people on the internet? I’d just be playing Dark Souls…..

  30. bunionbell says:

    kind of late to this but thank you for the thoughtful write up

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