When Anita Sarkeesian first started her Feminist Frequency videos on the tropes of video game female characters, I was honestly very interested in them. I’m always open for alternative views and I am all far equality in reality, media and more. The first couple videos, I certainly got, the damsel in distress trope is really bad, no doubt about it.
***Video will be posted at the end of the article***
But I’ve lost all care in the world about her opinion once she got onto the topics of sexual objectification, especially now when she’s just talking about how pretty the girls look.
After a hiatus of not posting videos, she posted a new one yesterday (January 19th, 2016) specifically talking about how women’s butts in video games are front and center. Essentially she criticized how in third-person games, the camera is centered on the female character’s ass and they’re animated to walk in a certain manner to accentuate their butts. She also noted that it’s far rarer to get the same view of a male character’s butt. And of course, female characters are designed the majority of the time with sex appeal in mind, so the butt of course is accentuated.
So let’s talk a little deeper about this, shall we?
First of all and if you want to call me misogynistic or sexist, go right ahead, I don’t really care. But let’s be honest, you know why in video games girls are more likely to have a nice butt? Because in real life, girls are far more likely to have a really nice butt! I’m sorry, there’s no getting around this fact, girls are built differently and the majority of them exercise to shape their butt as well. Guys don’t exactly do things that shape their ass as much as girls do, the average guy is of course more fixated on their core muscles above the belt, while girls focus below the belt. After all, yoga is a primarily below the belt focused exercise and what gender is known the most for doing yoga? You guessed it: women!
On the subject of yoga, another reason the female butt is focused more sexually has a lot to do with the clothing the average girl wears. You can make whatever case you want about the fashion industry having a negative contribution to female equality with the clothes they market, but at the end of the day girls choose more often than not to buy and wear tight pants, tight shorts and of course, yoga pants (which is an article I have to write about someday…), which do nothing BUT show off a girl’s butt. Also take into account the average style of swimwear and underwear girls wear compared to guys. Bikinis, one-pieces, panties, thongs, all them accentuate the butt and often show a lot more skin as well. The majority of girls do not wear shorts as a part of their swimwear, as well as boyshorts or longer for underwear. It’s hard to argue that girls’ butts aren’t a huge focus, when the majority of girls wear nothing but clothes that bring attention to it. So why wouldn’t game designers create them the same way? If you want to change that, more girls honestly have to start wearing clothes that don’t accentuate their butts as much, whether it’s baggy pants, longer skirts, etc.
Another thing and this is where you can probably make the biggest argument for misogyny or sexism, but it’s the overall psychological perceptions each gender has about the others’ butts. It’s fairly obvious that guys are way into girls’ butts, it’s no secret at all. We talk about girls’ butts all the time, we think about them all the time, again it’s no secret here. But generally speaking, what is the general perception of your average, run-of-the-mill guy’s butt? That it’s a disgusting part of the body that is only for farting all over the place. Granted there are a lot of guys out there who actually take good care of themselves (and don’t think farting on people is a funny prank) and have very nice butts. I know that girls do talk on occasion about some guys’ butts, but I’m willing to put all the money in the world on the table and bet that the amount of times guys talk about girls’ butts will be beyond higher than the amount of times girls talk about guys’ butts. Not only that, but girls may actually be more likely to talk about each others’ butts and their own butt amongst themselves. So regardless of the reasons, it’s obvious that we focus more on girls’ butts, because in society, that’s what we talk about more, especially in a sexual manner. Remember too, we also live in a still rather homophobic society, so as graphic as it sounds, let’s be honest, you’re gonna hear the term “anal sex” applied to girls far more than guys.
And a huge part of the butt debate as well, is that girls are simply far more comfortable with their bodies than guys are. And that may sound odd, most guys couldn’t care less about their bodies, it can be rather obvious at times. But I’m speaking in a manner of showing off and flaunting their bodies in public. How many guys do you see walking around in tight jeans and a muscle t-shirt compared to girls in a cleavage-toting tanktop and yoga pants? While there is the clear thought process and battle a lot of girls go through with how they perceive their looks, but in the end, you’re far more likely to see girls strutting their stuff in short shorts, than a guy wearing a tight shirt that shows off his abs. Again, it’s something that we have to change based on advertising, media and general societal perceptions. You cannot fault video games for simply going off what’s normal.
Finally getting into the gameplay criticisms Anita made, the camera angles putting a girl’s ass into the center of the frame is absolutely ridiculous. Why? Because of course it would be! That’s how a camera angle should be set up! Your ass is essentially around the center point of your body, a character should be framed in the center of the screen, so do the math there. To say that games intentionally zoom in to hide guys’ butts, if you really paid attention to video games, you’d know most of those cases tend to be games built for console, where the field of view is always far more zoomed in because of the distances between the player and their television. She brings up games like Tomb Raider, which also saw PC releases and what do most PC releases have that console games do not? A field of view slider or a much more zoomed out camera, because you’re sitting a foot or so away from the monitor. In most cases, it has zero to do with the gender. She points out Batman, but Catwoman is standing in the same exact area that Batman is, just take into account he’s taller and wider than her.
And another thing on the subject of Catwoman. Can Anita please stop slut shaming every female character that wears tight clothes? A lot of these characters are designed to be sexy, I’d totally understand if Max from Life is Strange or Jade from Beyond Good & Evil were wearing a full-body latex suit, that makes zero sense. But for example, Bayonetta’s character is a full-on over-exaggeration of a flirty, sexy character and she isn’t ashamed of it at all. She’s not being forced to dress as she does, she dresses that way because she wants to, that’s the direction her personality wants to go.
Anita has some wonderful views and I’m glad she takes the time to give her opinions and thoughts, but it’s very clear a lot of her research is done on a 5-minute test basis, with zero in-depth looks at a character’s personality and psyche. And this video really pointed it out for me.