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“It seems that when you want to make a woman into a hero, you hurt her first. When you want to make a man into a hero, you hurt . . . also a woman first.”
--Leigh Alexander, “What Did They Do to You: Our Women Heroes Problem.”

I was going to argue that although this is powerful rhetoric, I don’t think it’s true, but I realized I was thinking of the realm of literature, whereas the writer was talking about video games. Sadly, I think she’s pretty correct about video games.

What the article describes is how male protagonists in video games are motivated by harm to women who are important to them, whereas female protagonists are motivated by harm they themselves suffer. The thing I dislike about this most of all, which I haven’t seemed mentioned, is that it denies female protagonists the opportunity for the same level of altruism as the male protagonist. He gets to be motivated by love for someone else and anger over harm that comes to them. . . but this is apparently not possible for the female protagonist in video games. Her concern ends up being only herself.


Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
queenoftheskies
Jun. 20th, 2014 04:12 pm (UTC)
Hmm...I think it depends on the type of video game and whether you're talking console games or computer games. Also, MMO's are another animal entirely.

I think in console games, all the strong female characters I've played probably do have some trauma in their background. My favorite being Samus from the Metroid series.

In MMO's, since you create your own avatar and character background (to your standards) and then play in a created universe, I think that's usually different.

But, definitely in console games, yes.
asakiyume
Jun. 20th, 2014 04:21 pm (UTC)
She did seem to be talking mainly about console games.

I reacted without realizing context: at first I was like, yeah man, that's bad! And then I thought, but wait, this isn't actually true of most stories I can think of. And then I read the article and realized she was talking about video games--but although my kids play lots, so I hear about lots (and my daughters are both strong feminists)--I **don't**, so I have to go on what people say. It's interesting to hear from you that it's maybe more limited to console games.
(no subject) - queenoftheskies - Jun. 20th, 2014 06:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Jun. 20th, 2014 11:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - queenoftheskies - Jun. 20th, 2014 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Jun. 21st, 2014 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
thursdaysisters
Jun. 20th, 2014 04:34 pm (UTC)
asakiyume
Jun. 20th, 2014 04:36 pm (UTC)
I saw that one cause quite a storm on Twitter, but I haven't actually read it! I'll take a look.
(no subject) - thursdaysisters - Jun. 20th, 2014 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Jun. 20th, 2014 11:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thursdaysisters - Jun. 21st, 2014 03:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
cmcmck
Jun. 20th, 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)
I don't game, but am aware of this discourse from on here.

We were listening to a commercial classical music radio station over breakfast this morning and I was once again reminded of just how institutionally sexist advertising still is.

Sigh.....We still have so far to go!
asakiyume
Jun. 20th, 2014 11:28 pm (UTC)
Truth.
amaebi
Jun. 20th, 2014 05:44 pm (UTC)
Of course there is a common movie paradigm-- is it still common? in which The Man's wife or daughter or both are offed after a few displays of heartwarming laughter together, in order to motivate the long true love story of the movie: The Man's pursuit of the slayer.
asakiyume
Jun. 20th, 2014 11:33 pm (UTC)
Right; that's what the article was getting at--it's apparently a very common trope in console video games.

In movies, it's common, but I think only in revenge films… which is kind of a circular statement, I realize, but what I'm trying to say is, there are tons of movies in which revenge isn't a motive at all, and where men **aren't** motivated by harm to beloved female figures. But when you have a revenge movie, it seems that often the protag is male (but not always: hello, Kill Bill), and the revenge-prompting incident is some harm to some female (but again, not always: sometimes it's a double cross, or someone cheating the protag in some other way, etc.)
danceswithwaves
Jun. 21st, 2014 04:00 am (UTC)
I saw that quote too, and had a similar reaction. Your comment made me think of something else, though. (But I am way too tired to possibly explain well, so I'm not sure it's coming through clearly:) How do the motivations match the stereotypes/expectations of real life? Like, I was thinking they might even be slightly opposite. That women are expected to care for everyone over themselves, while men are supposed to care for themselves first. Or is that what actually happens, when everyone expects otherwise?
asakiyume
Jun. 21st, 2014 05:03 pm (UTC)
I wonder!

I think sometimes we can get ourselves tied into knots, too, thinking about what would be the most-just situation, or what's the most-unjust. Like consider villains in Disney movies: a lot of them are older females. So, should we boo and hiss, because the movie is making an older female a scary, wicked creature, or cheer, because here's a woman with strength, agency, and purpose, who plays a major role in the narrative? If the protagonist is a woman, too--like, say, in Tangled, then is it bad, because it's women opposing (instead of supporting) women, or is it better than having a man be the main antagonist? There shouldn't be a single correct answer, because the individual storyline ought to be strong enough to be more important than trope/category imperatives, but I think we still sometimes find ourselves--or see others--thinking about these things programmatically.
davesmusictank
Jun. 21st, 2014 05:37 am (UTC)
I do not play games at all, since they are all to misogynistic to to females and full of macho attitudes that i find distasteful.distasteful. Whether it reflects real life then there does seem to be some correlation, sad to say, and that as yet true equality has a long way to go.
asakiyume
Jun. 21st, 2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
For sure!
desmondcoutinho
Jun. 21st, 2014 11:39 am (UTC)
gender bending and computer gaming
Apparently you could go on courses back in the day where you would be asked to assume positions of young women in men's magazines and then discuss how it was for you afterwards. And there was also the Iron John think they were called smell each others armpits howl like wolves and do the sons and lovers wrestling things. That's not my point. I just want to say as well as being an international man of mystery and no I don't save my gel from anything because she really isn't into being saved and seems to get more irked by my use of what she terms slang or foul language than death threats against her but that aside. I have in the past played WoW and whatever the growing female subscribers might now claim. The whole point was you could take I think up to 6 toons possibly more can't recall from "human good" to "non-human evil" and experiment with group think and jingoism and the power of the mob. I had one level 60 dwarf palladin when level 60 really meant something who used to spend most of his time in goldshire getting drunk and robbed by stripping night elves. I had an earth mother druidess night elf who refused to trade goods and kept getting ripped by unseemly types all love and healing too pollyanna by half. And a pschopathic human female warrior. To combat the sexist outfits I would just wear a dress armour was for pussies. Ok sometimes the rest of the pick up group would beg put some armour on the boss is coming. You don't need armour if you got a cleric near by at full mana. I could be all things. I had one chappie this was on everquest same thing though a bard who never bothered with money or armour gave stuff away. People kept giving him stuff because he was never well equipped. Drop down a level and you are always a god to lesser beings. And I had a cowardly mage who believed the group was better off if the mage didn't die and spells are expensive. You are kidding me. More women and all you want to play are women, ok overdressed alien women. I always assumed if flirting with a female character that they were just another middle aged overweight man like me eating doritos and maltesers because people at their true centre are never what they appear superficially. These days I used duolingo. It's like an MMO but gives the appearance of utility. July 7th I am beginning to realize even a superhero can do little when confronted by that heady illusion of bureaucracy cowardice greed and I really want to change the world by pushing buttons on my computer keyboard. Oh and I will share one lasting memory. Pick up groups can be the best and worst of humanity. I once met a leader but only the once he spoke little fought well led us to victory and victory in tough dungeon defeated all the foes and made sure we all got our share of hte booty. I loved him and would have followed him anywhere. But he was summoned away at the end and we never met again. His last words were, mommy says I gotta go potty now. so i gotta go.
asakiyume
Jun. 21st, 2014 05:06 pm (UTC)
Re: gender bending and computer gaming
Intrigued by the story you tell of meeting the natural leader. I guess, seeing as they're not all that common in real life, it's not surprising that they're not all that common in our constructed worlds, either. I wonder how old he really was!
Re: gender bending and computer gaming - c_maxx - Jun. 23rd, 2014 03:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: gender bending and computer gaming - asakiyume - Jun. 24th, 2014 03:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: gender bending and computer gaming - c_maxx - Jun. 26th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: gender bending and computer gaming - c_maxx - Jun. 26th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: gender bending and computer gaming - asakiyume - Jun. 27th, 2014 04:08 am (UTC) - Expand
desmondcoutinho
Jun. 22nd, 2014 08:19 am (UTC)
For a game like WoW where all you have to do is push buttons in a sequence to do most things i'd guess around three or four years old. The most childish nasty selfish throw the toys out of the prame peeps on those worlds tend to be middl aged MDs. All you had to do to really enjoy the imaginary world was fight nicely and share your toys. But the grown ups didn't. I think what made the child a natural leader is he just got on with pushing the buttons and didn't dwell too much on any of the politics. But most grown-ups we get caught up in all the illusions. Even in a constructed world where you know the gold isn't real the food has no taste and nothing is permanent average life span of a toon or avatar that you create would probably be no more than six months. Then you reroll or move on. But even then people cling to the illusion. And the greatest illusion of all in those worlds why they are preferred to a better constructed computer world with just interactions with computer characters the ones that used to come on disks for your pc. The illusion that you are part of a community, a fellowship. People crave belonging with others. The buddhists and baby jesus were right though. If you try to cling to these things you lose them, but if you lay them all down more will be given to you but not if the only reason you laid them down was in the assumption that more would be given to you. I used to play with a friend an MD of a publishing company and from time to time we'd set strange goals like give up everything to the first stranger we met in a forest and then let the toon disappear into the forest (delete it at source). These things became really difficult. And the neuroticism on the worlds are quite intense very difficult not to buy into. Main reason I would'nt go back. I don't particularly understand why I'd be furious with someone for taking all the dandypoison seeds because I have a level 150 harvesting skill also scary. To lead all you had to do was get people to stay in the same place make sure everyone got enough of whatever type of kill to complete their own quests and make sure everyone got a share of the spoils a good leader good followers good team. it would sometimes happen. But just as in real life most people are out on the make figure they can screw you over move on and it won't matter. if the world is big enough you can do that. It's only in small communities where people get reputations and the reputation becomes another powerful illusion being unhelpful and meanspirited doesn't progress you so much. oh and the other thing. WoW and all the MMORPG type games aren't like real life. If you stay long enough you get to be a final level used to be 60 plus you get all the armour gold weapons eventually. It's designed to be played by people who have mastered pushing buttons in a sequence. I think duolingo is probably more for me these days. Until she is freed. Really young kids would play those games better. Another wyrd thing about the evil and good tribes. Essentially they were toons or avatars you created. So they'd be the same people randomly divided during particular battles depending on which toon they were occupying at the time. And yet the things that people say about the other always came up. That side are always vicious mean they show no mercy. our side though will always cut you some slack never take on a very weak opponent. Exactly the same people. The toddler was my Arthur. I 'd have followed him into any dungeon. I don't think he really got the whole idea of if you take weapons not suited for you from kills you can sell them later and set aside for a pension plan with very little capital gains tax. I think he just got off on pushing the buttons.
desmondcoutinho
Jun. 22nd, 2014 11:09 am (UTC)
In theory and from books it makes sense that a youngling with no education or training could be the one. It makes sense to choose David against Goliath because Goliath a giant in full armour massive sword undefeated champion of the world so why not send a shepherd boy no armour with some skimming stones. Same with Arthur he wasn't even a knight when he pulled the sword from the stone and he did that because he forgot to bring his brother's sword and didn't want to run all the way back home for it. And then baby jesus. But irl I tell you some 3 yr old was the greatest WoW leader I met only reason we parted was coz his mommy called him to go sit on the potty and you say nah can't be. Same with Sharmila you have trouble believing she is the one. You seem to cling to the prejudice that there are these Human Rights Activists and Lawyers and Muslim intellectuals all backing her. If there were all these giants fighting for the right then why would we need a David at all.
(no subject) - asakiyume - Jun. 24th, 2014 03:49 am (UTC) - Expand
desmondcoutinho
Jun. 24th, 2014 02:23 pm (UTC)
It only makes sense to love and to love it's not a paradox eh now sis, how else could it be. Do you want to know why the anchoress of the church of Mother Julian in Norwich was nearly done for heresy. Because the angel showed her baby jesus on the cross and the angel asked her what does it all mean. And the achoress replied I do not know tell me. And the Angel. Love is it's meaning. Love only love. And were you to meditate on this all your life then love is the only thing you would find. And as St Anselm the great had already proven in Cur Deus Homo. Such talk is heresy. I am surprised she wasn't burnt at the stake. It can be a different sort of power though. She saw a vision of everthing. She saw a seed in the palm of God's hand and God said something like, I care for it. I nurture it. I tend to it. I love it. I would love to be able to read Russian so I could reread the end of Anna Karenina and listen to that fool Mr Levin talk about his peak experiences and then go home to his wife the princess ekaterian alexandrovna sherbatsky as she changes their baby's nappy and then understand his peak experience in real perspective. When she is freed you know'll I'll never come back here again i am sure peeps can find peak experiences among the flowers but I must face my fear of the unchanged nappy. Yeah I think all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well....
asakiyume
Jun. 24th, 2014 03:07 pm (UTC)
Beautiful ♥

Here you go, an image by Leon Levinstein from one of my favorite books, The Family of Man--it was a book made from a photo exhibit in the 1950s, an attempt to show in photos people from all over the world, loving, working, grieving, laughing--it's beautiful. Your words reminded me of it.

Leon Levinstein photo
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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