Our own, revised version of this.
That chart always bugged me to no end, so ultimately, we decided to make one that is, in our opinion, accurate to what the descriptions say.
If you wondered why Kratos is the “heroically idealized” example, not “sexualized”, here’s a handy list of posts explaining why muscly bare-chested men are not as objectifed as women in armor bikinis:
- Objectification and…Men?
- Three shirtless men in video games “prove” the male gender is oppressed!
- But men are all super-buff, they’re sexually objectified too!
- JonTron says: Conan is totally objectified while topless slave women cower in the corners behind him
- What IF Conan were objectified?
- Pillar Men are so designed for female gaze… unless they are not
- Stupid sexy Kratos
- Captain America butt shots balance out sexualization of superheroines… except when they don’t
- Tragic bara cartoon skeleton with a pompadour is as sexy as Bayonetta!
- Can I say bad things about this game’s costumes in general, but really speak up only when the male character is shown in skimpy armor?
- You don’t see men complaining about Conan… cause he’s not a Square Enix pretty boy hero.
Generally, popular media is free to approach male warrior types from whatever perspective they find interesting, but with female characters the priority is showcasing their (conventional) femininity/attractiveness/sexiness. There’s little to no happy medium between the (rare) realistically designed warrior women and ridiculously… stylized ones, cause the only “stylized” thing about female character design seem to be their boobs, butts and amount of skin showing.
Even supposed satire can not get this right: George Kamitani, of Dragon’s Crown fame, insisted that he was aiming for parody/commentary with exaggeration in Amazon and Sorceress designs, but it ended up just being more or less a reproduction of the state of the video games industry.
I think it’s worth noting that finding a direct comparison to Kratos is more or less impossible because popular media is so adverse to muscular women (and female nipples).
The two major candidates for the Heroically Idealized were Thorn (shown above) and (prologue) Female Mage Hawke from Dragon Age 2 – because popular media is only really comfortable with badass women fighting from a distance. That or, like Bayonetta, for every ounce of badassery, they have to have about half a pound of sexy so they don’t intimidate the assumed straight male audience.
The most dramatic example: Samus Aran is supposed to be 6’2" and 200 pounds of pure ass kicking, but she’s depicted as fitting the conventional standard of “thin and pretty”. This meant that the designers of Super Smash Bros felt that without her armor, she’d need special jet boots to compete with the other fighters (many of whom are not warriors).
Sources for the characters used in the chart:
Lord of the Rings Online | God of War | Mevius: Final Fantasy
Lord of the Rings Online | Battleborn | Knight’s Fable
Today bringing back this convenient chart and master post on what constitutes false equivalence between female and male warrior characters.
Here’s a reminder that it’s very hard to find an honest to God (non-porn or non-parody) male design which would be made first and foremost with sexual availability in mind.
Sexualized design does not mean “someone somewhere finds this sexually appealing”. It means the designer (and/or their employer) deliberately goes out of their way to flaunt everything the presumed audience wants to ogle.
A few newer links to the list:
- Why compare big boobs to huge dicks? They’re not analogous anatomy!
- What do women find sexy in men?
- Is “male empowerment” bad?
- Aren’t these all just power fantasies?
- Are you ever okay with it sexy outfits? What if they’re a sexy character?