(Content warning for video: sexualized violence, self-mutilation, sexual assault, rape)
Hey it’s another video! (Thank you to everybody who submitted this to me.) This one is by MMO Attack contributor Joe Plork and is about hyper-sexualizing in video games, and how this is actually a really immature and superficial take on “sex” because actual sex, sexuality and sexual encounters are not actually often in games, and it’s just “hey look at the boobs while she beats somebody up or kills somebody or is killed. Look at the pornface while she’s shooting a gun or being headbutted!” and what not. It also goes to something that was said in the comments on this blog recently, that when people say “sex sells” about this stuff, that’s actually not true, because no sex is actually being sold. We’re selling sexualization of women, but generally, not actual sex OR sexuality.
As Jimquisition talked about in a previous video, developers have been told by publishers to actually not have their female characters have straight sexual relationships because it’ll turn off the straight male audience. We want women in games to be sexualized, but not sexual. We want female characters in porn poses, with orgasm faces, curved spines indicating lordosis behavior, skin showing, battle bikinis, angles that show butts, close ups that show boobs, etc, while she’s fighting, or getting beaten up, or captured, or falling, or etc etc etc, but not actually having sex. And we end up with stuff that just ends up being ridiculous with the battle bikinis, Ed Benes butt shots where it looks like everything is being drawn from the perspective of a gnome, and women who look like they’re orgasming or posing when they’re supposed to be injured or dead. And even when they’re drawing stuff that’s meant to be sexy, like a woman in a bikini, there’s still often issues like breaking her spine because you just have to get as many sexy bits into the scene as possible. It’s like everything is drawn as if the audience or creator might never see another sexy woman again, and we better make sure that every panel there’s a chance to get boobs and butt, we do it. And it hurts storytelling and characterization.
Plus, as my friend always says: if everything is sexualized, then nobody is actually sexual. If all female characters are always swaying their hips, in boobs and butt poses, in revealing outfits, with the same faces, expressions, lipstick, eyeliner, etc, whether they’re fighting, eating, or injured, then it’s really hard to convey that any of the female characters are different, especially if you want to convey that some of them are sexual and others aren’t. There’s nothing wrong with a character being sexual, but often they aren’t actually being sexual, they’re just being sexualized while doing non-sexual things.
It’s like a Michael Bay move: overusing CGI, explosions, rapid scene cuts, etc, doesn’t create an effective action movie, it creates a giant mess that’s hard to follow, takes away from telling a story, and can take viewers out of the movie. Just like use of action can be gratuitous or effective, so can use of sexualization, and sex. Having everything explode all the time and huge CGI battles may make a movie “action packed”, but not necessarily a good movie, having battle bikinis and boobs and butt fighting poses may make a comic or video game “sexualized”, but does not necessarily make it sexy or sexual, and can be just as distracting and harmful to storytelling as overusing CGI or explosions.
Relevant commentary on the huge difference between sexualization and sexuality in games (and by extent, other media).
It’s well past time we brought back this post, it comments on and explains so much and still only touches on the main reasons these things are problems.
Important quote from the video:
“Sexual beings are defined as sexual purely because they have looks based on the amplification of what it is we as society define as ‘aesthetic’ and ‘sexy’.”