Arkham City.... Sexist?

Dec 27, 2010
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Everyone's already explained this is clearly not sexist. However, this does demonstrate another form of prejudice that exists in this media; that games can't even acknowledge real-life issues. Even if the thugs in this game were portrayed as sexist (and almost certain they're not, although the game isn't out here yet so I can't be certain), it seems ridiculous to me to accuse the game of sexism. It speaks volumes about the maturity of the medium right now that massacring legions of Russians and Arabs is the norm for FPSs, yet if we had outright sexism or racism as a trait for the villain for a game like this there'd be absolute societal uproar, even from the pro-game lobby.
 

Gmans uncle

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Hmmm... I'm not so sure I'm ready to call sexism just yet just on the overuse of one word, I have a much bigger problem with the over-sexualization of Catwoman's character as a whole, I know she's supposed to be a very disturbed woman who's using sexuality as something of a coping method, but I just don't see that aspect of her character portrayed very well in her Arkham City adaptation. But I haven't actually played the game yet, so maybe they touch on that at some point.
 

Sentox6

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cobra_ky said:
There's a scene in Silence of the Lambs where Clarice Starling walks through an insane asylum and the male inmates say and do utterly despicable things to her. There's a video of it on youtube but i'm pretty sure i shouldn't be posting it. The thing about that scene is that it portrays misogyny in a thoroughly shocking but effective way. It's completely believable that is how depraved psychopaths would treat a woman walking through their cell block. And it serves a narrative purpose, in establishing the character of Hannibal Lecter, the conditions he lives in, and how altogether he's a far more sophisticated monster than the animals around him.

That's good writing. What happens in Arkham City is not. The criminal thugs are misogynist, but not in a believable way. They don't even display the creativity or individuality that the inmates in Silence of the Lambs did, they just call every woman a *****. It doesn't tell you anything about the characters very effectively, and it detracts from the storytelling and the sense of immersion. Hearing them same tired insult over and over doesn't make think "man these thugs really hate catwoman", it makes think "that's right, i'm playing a video game, these thugs are all simple AI scripts, and the repetitive voice acting is really boring and annoying at the same time."
This is all good and well, but saying something to the effect of "the dialogue for the grunt-class enemy in Arkham City is shallow and repetitive" is not the same as saying "Arkham City has an inherently sexist focus that seeks to engender and/or reinforce misogyny in modern society".

The game might well be guilty of the former, although certainly no more so than the majority of games out there (at least in my experience). It's certainly not guilty of the latter.
 

Princess Rose

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BreakfastMan said:
So, Kotaku recently posted an article how Arkham City might contain some elements of sexism. Take a look. [http://kotaku.com/5851358/batman-arkham-citys-weird-*****-fixation] What do you all think? Is the overuse of the word "*****" in this context just simply unfortunately lackluster writing? Or is it something more?
**reads**

As a woman (and a feminist), I don't find that particularly sexist in context.

Lazy, certainly. Bad faux-edgy video game writing.

If the characters spent the whole game calling Catwoman a ****, a whore, or a slut, I might start to get offended (even if that would be fairly realistic since most criminal thugs ARE sexist). Calling her a *****... eh.

It makes the male characters in the game appear to be sexist, which was probably the artistic intent (since you then get to punch them in the face repeatedly for instant karmic justice).

Besides, "*****" (when said to a woman) implies a powerful (non-obedient) woman. That's... a good thing. I call my female friends bitches all the time, usually as part of complimenting them on how awesome they've just been. ^^
 

Dastardly

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Iron Mal said:
I personally don't trust anyone who diagnoses themselves with Asperger's, only the people who have a trained medical professional diagnose them (I should know, I'm one of those with the condition).
And see, we could all choose to "not trust you" about you saying that. Why? Because plenty of people claim to have it, and provide no documentation. You could be lying, right? That's the point being made -- we should not allow the fact that some people lodge disingenuous complaints to make use believe that all such complaints must therefore be disingenuous.

That's what you're doing here -- you're summarily dismissing the merits of any view that you know disagrees with your own. Rather than just disagreeing, you've got to somehow indicate the idea is ridiculous in some way.

Nice way to try and avoid answering the question I gave you, but to answer your evasive response I would have to say that you can't claim that you aren't against the use of the word ***** when that was seemingly the platform of your complaint (that every woman in the game is called a *****), either that word bothers you or it doesn't.

If it doesn't then what's the problem?
I can claim whatever I like about what I am for or against. That's the great thing about it being my view. If you're misunderstanding it, it's probably because you're not trying very hard to do so -- you've already made up your mind about it because it doesn't agree with you.

I've made it pretty clear, and will do so again: the word itself is not the concern. The broad, pervasive use of the word to apply to every female in the game, is the concern. There's nothing wrong with Twinkies, but eating a diet of nothing but Twinkies is a problem -- sometimes, the problem isn't with the subject, but rather with the excess of the subject.

Again, it's not lazy writing so much as it's just fitting for the characters in question.
It's both. Yes, uneducated thugs would conceivably speak that way. No, that doesn't mean the writers can't be expected to inject a little variety here. This is a game about a rich man dressed as a bat fighting criminals that use superhuman chemicals and monster plants -- you want to fixate on the realistic presentation of some thugs? Why should they get a fairer, more realistic treatment than all of the female characters -- who, gender aside, are more important to the story anyway?

So you wouldn't have any problem what-so-ever if the other women got different terms of abuse hurled at them?

That's a...strange sentiment to have.
Only if you're improperly framing my view of the problem. I also don't think the terms necessarily have to be female-abusive. It's a false choice -- it's not like the only things we could call her are "*****" or "****." There are other gender-neutral insults we could mix in, y'know, for variety.

And the absence of expletives suddenly makes a work more mature as well?
False dichotomy. Strawman. No one said that, no one indicated it. This is just spinning wheels in the dirt to kick up a cloud and confuse the issue.

Bias is unintentional, we all have biases and they're always active whether we recognise them or not (most of the time we don't). Biases are largely harmless and often don't result in anything (like I said, we all have biases and for the most part we all tend to believe in the equal and fair treatment of others despite this).
No True Scotsman. You're drawing artificial distinctions between "bias" and "-isms." You're also creating an imaginary definition of "bias." Sexism is a bias -- one that centers around gender. This is just trying to redefine the terminology to match your personal feelings, rather than accept that your current view is limited or flawed.

The writers aren't the ones saying *****, the characters are so stop harping on the 'lazy writers' complaint because it plainly isn't that.
I'll harp where I like, thank you much. The characters are only "saying" these things because the writers "told them" to. It's one thing to write a villain to intentionally represent views you don't believe. It's another to accidentally (through laziness) write villains that betray an underlying bias in how you view women -- or at least leave the window wide open for things to be interpreted that way.

Developers and writers need to be aware of how things like this may be perceived. In this case, they were not. Is it a death sentence for the game? Of course not. But it's a flaw that is worth pointing out so we can fix it going forward.
 

Treblaine

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OK, please explain in no ambiguous terms why Catwoman isn't like Bayonetta to the point that Catwoman is sexist tripe that should be self-censored while Bayonetta is excusable if not laudable.

Bayonetta strips off her clothes mid-battle for goodness sake!

Tin Man said:
Treblaine said:
PS: it's kinda futile for females to succeed in combat from bulking up with muscle and armour, they are at an inherent height and weight disadvantage. It at least makes some sense to go the other route to exploit speed and dexterity instead.
I hope I've argued some of your finer points above, or at least you can get the jist of my stance...

But THIS is where I must draw the line.

Are you SERIOUSLY suggesting that it's completely fine for female characters to wear clothing designed to blatantly pander to a young, straight, male audience? And that this is acceptable under the grounds of 'exploiting speed and dexterity'? Really?

Anywho gents, thank you for reading, and please give this a watch -

http://www.screwattack.com/shows/pa...game-overthinker-episode-32-i-heart-bayonetta
No... she is sexy because she is SUPPOSED to be sexy. That is the artist's vision. Respect that and understand that for what it is, not what you think it should be.

But just I'm stating that making her alluring doesn't fly in the face of logic for a female character to eschew armour in favour of speed. It's not somehow sexist for Batman to get armour but not Catwoman. And lets not forget the most famous example of heroines in gaming, Samus Aran is defined by her power armour. But the less said about Japanese fighting games (soul-calibur, DOA) the better, but they've always been low-brow tripe, what do you expect?

"young, straight, male audience?"

Isn't that ageist, homophobic Hetero-centric AND sexist?

So only young would find the female form alluring? That no one mature should ever show any genuine interests? As to straight males, what about lesbians? Actually, what about straight females, obviously not in a sexual way but look at a typical Fashion magazine targeted at women:


This is a magazine for straight women, and this is no cherry picking, this was the top 5th result for "Women's fashion magazine". For whatever reason they like to look at beautiful women, probably out of admiration. And there are of course so many many other reasons for Catwoman to wear a catsuit rather than, say, baggy jeans and a sensible jacket.

The artist has MANY reasons to decide to make Catwoman a very extrovert and sexual character, but to accuse him of doing it "pander to" sweaty palmed teenage boys is a low-blow. You are essentially accusing him of making pornography; something of no artistic worth, purely a sexual turn on. When it's not. The outrage over the catwoman-codes in BAC have not in ANY WAY been tempered by "hurr, you can just go online to see pics of Catwoman" they want to BE her, kicking ass. Not just looking at her ass.
 

Rastrelly

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facepalm.jpg

Sexism is a negative event in real life. But it can be a powerful atmospheric and storytelling tool. Sexism, racism, drugs and alcohol themselves are not something to be pointed to like "OHMYGOSH, THIS GAME IS SEXIST!!!" The game will be sexist only when it propagates sexism. In this game, as I can see, an object of sexist behaviour kiks asses of all the sexist scum. So how can this game be called sexist? Also: sociological, historical and other criteria must be considered during analysis from current time point of view.
 

cobra_ky

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Sentox6 said:
This is all good and well, but saying something to the effect of "the dialogue for the grunt-class enemy in Arkham City is shallow and repetitive" is not the same as saying "Arkham City has an inherently sexist focus that seeks to engender and/or reinforce misogyny in modern society".

The game might well be guilty of the former, although certainly no more so than the majority of games out there (at least in my experience). It's certainly not guilty of the latter.
Oh, i certainly never accused the game or it's makers of being intentionally sexist. I don't think they were "seeking" to make any kind of statement about women at all. I think they unwittingly wrote dialogue that was inconsiderate from a female perspective. I think that's a direct result of the lack of women in the industry and i think that's unfortunate.

I don't attribute any malicious intent to the makers of Arkham City. But I do think it's dangerous to pretend that incidents like these aren't a problem for the future of the industry.
 

funguy2121

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BreakfastMan said:
So, Kotaku recently posted an article how Arkham City might contain some elements of sexism. Take a look. [http://kotaku.com/5851358/batman-arkham-citys-weird-*****-fixation] What do you all think? Is the overuse of the word "*****" in this context just simply unfortunately lackluster writing? Or is it something more?

Some takes on this from others:
http://filmcrithulk.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/goddammit-video-games-the-first-few-hours-of-arkham-city-is-lots-of-fun-but-super-duper-sexist/
http://gameoverthinker.blogspot.com/2011/10/will-arkham-city-be-this-years-other-m.html
The article concedes that the game concerns adult issues, and very dark ones as well, and that it's the villains, not exactly empathetic characters and role models, who frequently use such language. It would seem to me that the opposite of Otaku's assertions here are true.
 

ironlordthemad

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Just want to point out that the bad guys are calling the female character a *****... so surely that will create an association between the bad guys and bad language, while the protagonist hero shows her respect. Surely thats something worth teaching the little ones right?
 

Transhuman Plus

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chstens said:
It's sensationalist journalism
From Kotaku it's sensationalist journalism, from Film Critic Hulk it's overzealous feminism.

The reason the word "*****" appears so frequently in the game is because that's exactly the insult that would spring to an inmate's mind. It's the retort that feels the most realistic considering the setting. If you watched a Quentin Tarentino film with gangsters in it, you wouldn't be surprised if they say "Fuck" a lot.
 

Kopikatsu

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I just played through the intro of Arkham City again, and Bruce Wayne gets it, too.

"I'm going to make you my *****, Wayne!"

There were two other times, but that line was the only one I could recall at the moment.
 

Delusibeta

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Mar 7, 2010
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It's interesting that this game has attracted a fairly large quantity of QQ over sexualisation, and I've yet to see an argument that "It's based on a comic. What did you expect?" wouldn't be a sufficient response.
 

Fiz_The_Toaster

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Tin Man said:
Fiz_The_Toaster said:
Tin Man said:
But Batman doesn't need to have that big of a build, it's a bit ridiculous. I'd argue most of the designs for that game are what I'd expect for a comic book game, a bit ridiculous. I'd also argue that Catwoman has always been a giant flirt, so her design makes sense to me. Sorry, but I don't see the sexism there.
What I mentioned was a reason for how Batman isn't fan service to women. Another part of how woman friendly the bat is NOT, is what you just mentioned. They've made batman enourmous(even by bat standards) in this for EXACTLY that same reason that Marcus Fenix, Master Chief and the most recent incarnation of Chris Redfield is. The empowerment fantasies of young men in western culture. I'm not saying you or me or even anyone here, but some designers perspective of *us*.

A giant flirt, perhaps, but here she is literally NOTHING more then male titillation. And besides, that argument STILL doesn't hold water. Think of it this way: 'It's ok for this character to dress and act like a vapid sex bunny, with little to add to the scene other than trite sexual puns and a bit of T&A, because that's what she's supposed to be.' Yeah, that kind of viewpoint doesn't really move things along does it?
I really don't see how Batman is an empowerment fantasy, for that design maybe, but I just chalk it up to comic book design because I know I've seen Batman in comics where he is huge. Marcus Fenix, yes, Master Chief, maybe, and Chris Redfield? I don't think so, but that's just me.

I would agree with you IF she doesn't have a personality, she was dumb as a brick and an idiot, then yes, but since she's not, I would say no. Again, I don't see what the big deal is, and yes, she is supposed to be showing sex appeal, what did you expect?