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  1. I love your article, Collie, and I fully agree with those suggestions.

    There are two aspects you seem to have left unspoken, I believe ….

    First one being a mental disorder known as “beauty obsession”, it’s manifestation causes it’s victims to glorify those they perceive as beautiful into something of perfection. Since artists are known to be psychotic, pathetic losers, it’s natural they worship women, and try to make them gorgeous in their “creations”.

    So one reason for this, is that women being the majority and also the standard of common beauty, their features are expressed to point out their “dominance” in the realm of beauty. So the harmless, childish explanation could be that women are more valued for their higher beauty than their physical or mental attributes. Beauty isn’t dangerous, like prowess or intelligence is. So women are also pictured as less threatening than they already are (in the artist’s deranged …. let’s call it a mind).

    An example for this is the game Septerra Core (Legacy of the Creator). Where only two heroines are dressed hardcore, and do most of the fighting. Namely Selina and Maya. Also decent is Alisa, princess of the holy chosen empire. The other girls, wether waitresses, sex slaves or harlots, are less than decent ….. to put it mildly.

    Selina, my favourite is dressed as a general should be, with no flesh bared, and always sword in hand.

    The second aspect you might have mentioned is the obvious “fantasy” aspect of both art and video games ….. where simple women can feel as if they’re stunning, breath-taking “mermaids”, where eunuchs and other weaklings can feel like they’re spouting divine strength through every pore … and so forth.

    In other words, the artistic side of games or comics, stylizes characters not into what they should be, but into what most potential buyers want to become. Those traits are chosen to be envied and most desirable, on purely esthetic and commercial grounds. Their ruthless goal is to make money selling fantasies to unworthy wanna-be’s.

    It’s not to emphasize the hidden qualities of women, or boast their ego’s, it’s to give them compensation and compromise. A feeling of “belonging” and unrequited desire to help buyers sleep better and live faster once they’re purchased whatever image was being “sold” ….

    So I’m saying commerce will never change, greedy people will always create phony feel-good art to make other feel good about what they don’t have, but “wish they did” …. if there was morality in the heart of artists or designers, then yes your ideas would be ideally represented, and the final result would be truly worth seeing.

    Until then we’re stuck in a medieval tavern ordering drinks from a topless barmaid, which are being served by nude waitresses ….

  2. Hi Collie,
    Thank you for your commets. Sometimes we read stuff from a different point of view other then ours. I feel if a women has a sexy body and wants to show it off she should have that right to feel sexy.I think your confused with what I offer with racy womens underclothing . Most of it is to be worn by a women for her man. In Private ,Some tops can be worn out to clubs with jeans. I thought because you were in school you were young. I miss understood. Wish you the best of success in school. Thanks for the post.

  3. Thank you for commenting, Paul! From your name I am guessing you are male. Pardon my amused nosiness, but I find myself wondering how someone who apparently sells racy women’s underclothing came to be familiar — and apparently approving of — with Rubenstein? :)

  4. The article, Obscuring the Male Gaze by Andrea Rubenstein, is well worth reading. It’s a fascinating review of how pervasive and ‘unseen’ the objectification of women is in our society, such that women themselves sometimes no longer notice it! Thanks for the post ans is is interesting.

  5. Wardrobe.. “So bleeding what”

    Ok, so all male fighters will come with tasseled pasties, long flowing hair, butt cheeks exposed, a soft bedroom voice, and flounce with pride from now on. No choice, who bloody cares anyway. Right?

    The question came up because many games are really porn with a game attached. Yes, sometime the game is good too it’s just that porn shouldn’t be the default (and often only) option in the game. On a really good game many will tolerate a high level of skank just to play it but it is possible to tone way down without effecting game play. I’m not requesting you give up your porn just that selection is possible. You could crank it to full bimbo for all I care but if that’s the only play level I’ll pass. Yep, one heck of a game.. No sale. No not a high issue for me just personal taste.

    Now for female role-played characters… Options for a couple of bra sizes below L, like D, C, B,and A. Real clothing and armor types. Some basic body types with different heights. A basic (non-vamp) walk cycle…. Not hard at all as most of the code is already in the male charaters. It takes alot more code for the full-jiggle bump and grind. Sadly it all seems too much to ask to have something other than a digitized version of the male dancer so many other males seem so keen to drool over.

  6. Victor sat at the table, trying hard not to fall asleep. This past week had been more taxing than anything he’d done before. Every day, he’d gotten up bright and early in the morning for calisthenics and jogging with Captain Bastion and the others.

    He’d been studying academic subjects under Julia and Jarell; Captain Bastion had insisted he finish his education and get his GED if he was to become a member of Vanguard. He had been concerned about using up so much of their time on such a mundane topic, but neither of them complained. Indeed, Jarell had taken very well to becoming a teacher, and by the end of the week, Victor had found himself eagerly anticipating his lessons. (Victor had been anticipating his lessons with Julia from the beginning, for an entirely different reason.)

    Ms. Raven had been tutoring him in the finer points of pistol marksmanship. The black-haired lady was still an enigma to Victor; he wasn’t sure if her super-powers were related to her secretarial abilities or her marksmanship. However, based on the way she could shoot, he wasn’t going to ask her any personal questions any time soon.

    Adam had teaching him hand-to-hand combat. He said he’d been teaching him, that was. As far as Victor could tell, their lessons had mostly been learning how to dodge or deflect super-human blows with an ordinary human body, which was not particularly enjoyable. However, between this and his morning exercise routine, Victor could already feel himself growing stronger. He looked around the table, keeping his eyes open and his facial expression bright and alert. Julia was fiddling with some manner of electronic device. Jarell was reading a book, frowning occasionally at it. Adam lounged back in his chair, putting his feet up on the table.

    “So, what’s going on?” he asked the assembled members of the Vanguard. He felt stupid for asking the question, but had already been taught that it was much better to look ignorant than to be ignorant.

    “Remember what Captain Bastion said to you about staying strong in mind, body, and soul?” said Adam. “Well, this here is to strengthen your soul.”

    “Your ethics, morelike.” commented Jarell, not looking up from his book. “Every Sunday, the Captain brings all of his active-duty agents together, and we have a round-table discussion on ethical superheroing.”

    Adam stretched, leaning back and balancing his chair precariously. “I really preferred it when we all just flew down to Greensville once a week.”

    “That’s just because you wanted to get into Lissa’s skirts.” said Julia.

    “Who doesn’t?” asked Adam cheerfully. Before either could reply, he dropped his feet from the table and sat up, looking suddenly attentive. Both Julia and Jarell followed his lead, removing their previous forms of distraction. Victor also sat up.

    The door to the conference room opened, and Captain Bastion entered. Victor blinked. He had seen the Captain in armor, and in the armor’s undersuit, and, during one rather awkward incident in the locker room after morning calisthenics, in nothing at all. This was the first time he had ever seen Captain Bastion in a suit.

    “Greetings.” he said. “I apologize for my lateness. Lissa was finishing a batch of cookies and de-… and requested I bring them back with me.” Captain Bastion pulled out a tin of chocolate-chip cookies, which he placed in the center of the table. Adam immediately pounced on the tin, taking several.

    “Now,” said Captain Bastion, “I would like to review the rules of this discussion before we begin. Remember that you are all encouraged to speak up and voice your opinions, and that there are no wrong answers here. Now, what ethical issues dealing with super-heroism or your membership with the Vanguard have you encountered since our last session?”

    Victor blinked. Obviously, this session was being geared towards him. He wondered if he was expected to raise the first issue. He wracked his brain, trying to think of something intelligent to say. After a moment, Adam spoke first.

    “Sex in super-hero teams.” he said. Julia shot him a dirty look.

    “Er…yes, Adam.” said Captain Bastion. He was apparently expecting more.

    “Should it be regulated?” asked Jarell suddenly. “In almost every other fighting unit, sex between members complicates things. What level of oversight should the leader of an outfit keep over his members?”

    “Those are all very good questions, Jarell.” said Captain Bastion. “Of course, you all know my feelings on the matter.”

    “Er, I’m afraid I don’t.” said Volt. “I’m afraid it never came up.” He cringed, as the innuendo of what he said struck him. Adam smiled at him, but the other members of the Vanguard apparently didn’t notice.

    Captain Bastion cleared his throat. “It has always been my policy not to make rulings on areas that do not obviously require them. Since the sex lives of the members of the Vanguard have never caused any performance issues, I do not make any requirements.”

    “It’s a good management strategy.” said Jarell. “Superheroes are a fractious bunch.”

    “And they love their sexings.” added Adam.

    “Ordering them to not have sex would probably create more problems than it solved.” Jarell continued.

    “Er…indeed.” said Captain Bastion.

    “And what then?” Captain Bastion’s voice was suddenly icy. “Where does it end? Of course you don’t have to pay taxes. People get away with it all the time. And even if they do catch you, what can they do to you? Send the cops after you? Arrest a superhero?”

    Captain Bastion stood, and began to pace as he talked. “They’ll be back, of course, with bigger guns and a SWAT team. It still won’t do them any good. But sooner or later someone will die. Perhaps they’ll get a lucky shot in. More likely, it will come down to your life or one of theirs.”

    “What, then? Perhaps the army will become involved. Even they cannot stop you. Infantry, artillery, armor, even close air support; we are stronger than any of them. Of course, to survive their assaults, we will need to kill many of them. We’d need to kill hundreds of our own soldiers.”

    “It wouldn’t end there, of course. You would have made a stand against the United States. Many would want to live in the territory you had carved out for yourself.; many more would want to destroy it on general principle. You could enforce whatever law you liked, within your territory.”

    “But you would not find it to your liking, I believe. Every modern convenience you enjoy, every single one of them, is only possible because tens of thousands of people work for them. The food you eat is grown, packaged, and shipped to you. The products you buy, the clothes you wear…everything. If you separate yourself from the rules of society, then you separate yourself from its benefits, as well.”

    “And so, in your little lawless canker sore on the face of America, you would dwell, doing as you saw fit, until one of us came for you. That is where it would end; staring down the barrel of Ms. Smith’s guns, or feeling one of Jarell’s spells consume you. It will end with Victor’s lightning incinerating you, or Adam’s blade in your heart. It ends with you having become the ultimate perversion of what it is you stand for; a supervillan. It ends with my hands around your neck.”

    Captain Bastion paused for a moment, and looked around the room. None of the Vanguard met his gaze.

    “There is another way it could end. The day may come that our leaders no longer protect us at all. There may be a time of lawlessness, of riots and bloodshed. It may be a time of secret police coming in the night to quietly remove the dissidents. There are many ways America could fail. But until it does, well and truly, we are honor-bound to support her, and follow her laws.”

    Captain Bastion raised his head, and smiled grimly.

    “There is another side to our duty. Every time we serve the public with our powers, we remind certain people that not everyone is for sale, or can be terrified into obedience. We remind them that not everyone will accept their messages of hatred and apathy. We remind them that the only reason, the only reason that this land has not torn itself apart is that we have fought to keep it so, and that if we were to decide to do so, no power on Heaven or Earth could preserve it. When we go to work, those who would corrupt America for their own personal gain and private agendas are reminded that there is a force in the world stronger than bribery, stronger than politics, stronger than crooked cops or shadowy thugs.”

    “And I will promise you this; as long as these people are reminded of us, then the days of the riots and the jack-boots will be a very, very long time in coming. And I promise you that if they should come, then, I promise to you, they will not remain.”

    To answer your questions about Planescape: Torment…

    (You will forgive me if I sound like a Paul Verhoeven fan.)

    A:) Where are the female thugs? Where are the male harlots?

    There’s a female thug in the Alley of Dangerous Angles. She’s named Krystal. She’s the leader of the Razor Angels gang, and you get a quest from her.

    Can’t quite remember if there are any male prostitutes available in the Clerk’s ward. Will get back to you on my next playthrough. If it will make you happier, I can dig up a list of the many, many male characters in Planescape: Torment who will cheerfully accept bribes.

    But that is not the issue. I believe that your complaint is that in the Lower Ward, the ass-end of Sigil…
    There are significantly more male thugs than female, and significantly more female prostitutes than male.


    This is a fantasy game, played in a fantasy universe. Scummy parts of town are always populated by whores and thugs. It’s like dragons and treasure. Is it harmful? Does it affect the thinking of people who immerse themselves in the settings? I don’t know. Again, I can give you a fairly long list of female shopkeepers, wizards, and the like, in addition to the prostitutes.

    B: Men vs. Women’s wardrobes and animations.

    Yes, it is a quite unashamed attempt to cash in on horny male gamers. And so what? Again, this is a fantasy universe. Dresses made of strategic strips of ribbon enchanted to stay into place are a very old idea.
    Were they put in because sex sells? Very likely.

    So bleeding what? Will you dismiss the game sheerly because it has boobies? Do you think that sexy female character animations are the extent to the depth of the exploration of gender issues in the game?

    If so, how far did you actually get? As I have alluded to, there are veritable hordes of female characters that most emphatically do not just exist to look pretty. They have their own powers and their own agendas.

    You mention Annah as embarrasing. Why so? There is a rich and interesting character in Annah, that you discover in fits and starts throughout the game. She is most emphatically not just sex-on-the-hoof for the Nameless One. Again, I wonder how much time you actually spent playing the game and interacting with the world, and how long it took before you decided that the game was sexist and turned it off.

    I could be completely wrong on this. It may be that you have played Planescape: Torment through to its completion, and have more arguments against it that you’ve not made explicit. But I am hard pressed to call a game with Deionarra, Fall-From-Grace, and Ravel Puzzlewell in it a sexist game. I have been vague myself, because I think that before I give you, say, a long, multi-part-with-citations-from-the-game explanation for , say, why Annah wears her trademark boob-exposing slut-wear and why the fact that she does so is not meant simply to provide something for male players to drool over, I want you to actually play the game yourself. The reason for this is that Planescape: Torment, in addition to providing a very fascinating, very elucidating, and very insightful study of many, many issues (not the least standard fantasy cliches), it’s also one heck of a game with one of the best storylines ever, and I think that you owe it to yourself to give it another try, with a slightly more open mind.

    There are many, many other fantasy computer role-playing games with boobies in them that don’t give even a hint of attention to higher issues.

    Planescape: Torment does. And I honestly feel that including it in your argument is as flawed as would be bringing up Tom Sawyer as an example of historical American racism.

  7. Lyle: my housemates play CoH, and you’re quite right — the double-standards for male or female characters are simply mind-boggling! I can’t help but wonder what they were thinking!

    Anvil*: re attracting a larger female audience, the funny thing is they have asked — I’ve answered some of the questionnaires they put out — they’re just not listening to the results. They’re only hearing what they want to hear, and it doesn’t matter how good your research is if you adamantly refuse to learn from it.

    I remember listening in horror to a computer game artist I know describing the general dismay within the production team, at hearing of the corporate decision to try to attract more women with a particular game license. I quote their reaction: “Aww, man! They’re gonna make it pink and dumb!”

    If that’s truly how they see women, how can they be surprised to discover women despise them and their moronic games?

  8. The Dazzler comic-book character seemed a start to breaking the mould but then changed in focus and direction.
    As for games it will likely take breaking away from 50’s pulp novels and a concerted effort to add less biased character ranges/images to available choices. There are many gaming industry articles still pondering over why they can’t attract a larger female audience and yet they still seem too shy to ask.

  9. City of Heroes ends up looking even worse if you examine the character creation system. You have numerous and easy-to-reach ways to create a scantily-clad female avatar, but it took a lot of complaints before “bare legs” became an option for male avatars (and since the colors were tweaked so that flesh-toned costumes weren’t possible, you couldn’t cluge that decently).

  10. *snicker* Oh, my… I remember that game. One of my housemates at the time was its project manager! He was embarrassed by it, although he did make sure it was clear in the game that a) it was magic armor, so there was an excuse for it to look so stupid, and b) it was an insult to the woman stuck wearing it. Heehee! Poor George… we teased him mercilessly about it. ;)

    Hm. Regarding your product, it’s not really a clear scan. Is the individual wearing anything aside from a twist of cloth about her (I think) chest? I’m reminded somewhat of the covers of two products I sold at Planet 10, the store I used to manage. One was a FASA product where there was an obvious gender double standard: the female mecha pilot was in a thong, and the male was in short shorts. That was kinda annoying. The other was a product where a goat-legged female fay creature was drawing a hapless male mortal into a fairy ring, and you could see a small part of her breast. That one didn’t bother me so much, since it made sense to me she’d not bother with clothing.

    I understand sex sells, of course. I just want there to be no double standard. If we’re going to have half-naked females on our cover art, let’s be fair and have plenty of half-naked males too! What’s the worst that happens — maybe more women buy the product? ;)

  11. Given Jackson’s source material, I think he did quite a bit to advance women as having some sort of meaning in the story. Arwen, for example, actually does things! Compare the original text, where women are largely absent (except maybe as giant spiders, and that brings up a whole host of different issues).

    If you’re going to bring up computer games, let’s not forget the infamous “Curse of the Azure Bonds”: . Her armor isn’t even as effective as a chainmail bikini, as it leaves the sternum totally exposed!

    Today, I still remember a bizarre line from the Mechwarrior computer game, when introduced to the female character D. Smith: “The D is for Desire — tell anyone and I’ll kill you!” … Um, we haven’t hired you yet. ^.^

    Speaking as a game publisher, I try to remain cognizant of the roles of women in the games and in society. I had mixed feelings about — I’m not sure if that’s sexualized or just fantastic. We toned down much of the image in post-production.

    Thanks for this essay.

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