“Sword of Sorcery”, Amethyst, Beryl, and “That Scene”

septiembre 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm (Animation, Comic Books, Commentary, Rape Culture, sexism) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

(Content Note: Rape and Rape Culture)

On episode 91 of their House to Astonish podcast, Paul O’Brien and Al Kennedy discuss the return to Amethyst to comics and her debut in Sword of Sorcery #0.  The bulk of their review is spent discussing a scene in the protagonist Amy Winston stops the attempted gang rape of Beryl, an unpopular girl whom she’d met earlier that day, by three of their high school classmates.  Kennedy, in particular, considered this scene as the low point in the issue, being utterly unnecessary, disruptive of the book’s general feel, and yet another example of comic book writers’ use of rape as a source of cheap drama.

To quote the Slacktiverse, I think it’s more complicated than that.  While I am like Kennedy rather sick and tired of the way rape and sexual assault is usually presented in fiction–as something that doesn’t exist beyond the actual act, is often presented in an misinformative manner, and is at times fetishized–I’m not sure altogether sure that the scene shown here was an example of what he refers to.

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Postscript: The Tomb Raider reboot issue.

junio 16, 2012 at 1:42 am (Rape Culture, sexism, Videogames & Vidcons) (, , , , , )


[Content Note: Sexual objectification of women, rape, sexual assault, and rape culture]

So less than twenty-four hours after the Kotaku article detailing how Tomb Raider‘s executive producer wanted players to feel “protective” towards Lara in the newest reboot, Crystal Dynamics sent out a statement “clarifying” the situation.

Y’know, if this response had said something like “We were not aware of the implications of the scene in question, and since it was not our intention to do harm, we’ll work with the objectionable content to try to ameliorate harm in any way possible within the time available.” That at least would have demonstrated good faith.  This, however?  This is just vile.

Say we take them at their word and believe them when they say that they did not intend Lara’s climactic “kills for the first time” scene to involve sexual assault. There are hundreds of ways a scene like that could have gone, and had the scenario played out with a male character, you can bet your ass that it would have played out differently. And yet for some reason they go for the one invoking rape and all its implications despite explicitly not intending to do so?

Somehow I do not buy that.

Now, do the objections against the game’s narrative mean that no story ever should be allowed to deal with rape, as some people have (perhaps dishonestly) claimed?  Not at all (although I generally feel that videogames in particular tend to be a bad medium for dealing with the topic sensitively).  However, this is not the way to go about it at all–see here and here for good breakdowns of the reasons why this is the case–and people who believe that they can show a story’s hero get sexually assaulted and not deal with it are not the people who should be doing it.




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No, underwear is not the same as swimwear

enero 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

[Content note/Trigger Warning: Rape culture, assumptions about consent]

So a Facebook friend of mine posted this earlier today, thinking it was funny.

(The Spanish-language bit, by the way, says: “FEMALE LOGIC: Incomprehensible to all men”)

My first instinct was to defriend the guy on the spot: we’re not that close, and I doubt he’d notice. A second thought was to blast the entire ideas expressed in the picture for the bunch of sexist crap it is.  The idea that eventually won out, though, was to post this (in Spanish, which I’ve translated here):

Nothing complicated or illogical about it: just like I have no problems being naked in front of my (theoretical) girlfriend, but would have problems being naked in front of a classroom, there are women who have moments where they like showing skin, and others when they don’t.”

While possibly more diplomatic than they deserved (yeah, “they” the post quickly received multiple comments about how “true” the sentiment expressed in the picture was), and probably less forceful than is necessary, it’s what I was willing to say out loud–I’m not good with confrontations.  If nothing else, I hope that some of them at least get the point that this is not just an idiosyncrasy only women indulge in, or senseless.  Still, it only scratches the surface of the Brobdingnagian amount of fail expressed in the picture.  Hence, this post.

I’ll grant this to the poster: there are people–not all of them women–who do, in fact, feel this way.   I can not speak as to the reasons why, except to say that culture has a lot to do with it.  We’re taught that different contexts require different responses, and what’s okay in the beach (displaying a lot of skin) isn’t okay in the funeral parlor, and this is a natural extension of that.  Saying that this is something that only women do is, at best, unobservant and at worst, dishonest.

This picture also carries with it the underlying idea that if a woman is open to dressing or acting sexily in one place, then she must be okay with being that same way everywhere else, which no: I reject the premise in its entirety.  Just because a woman (person, really) consents to being ogled, or kissed, or whatever in one place does not mean that she must consent in every other context.  She’s free to give or withdraw that consent, no ifs, ands, or buts–that’s what the word MEANS.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  If a woman I’m with feels embarrassed when I accidentally catch her changing, even after we’ve spent the day at the pool, well then that’s quite alright–I feel  the same way, lots of times.  She’s allowed to have her own opinion: it is her right as a person.  And if I happened to believe that what she wants is secondary, and don’t apologize for disrupting her privacy, then congratulations, me: I’m a huge asshole.

Second is the implication that women are inherently senseless (“Female logic”), which includes the corollary that men are logical, and that never the twain shall meet–individuality or personhood need not apply. It’s this type of thinking that forms a major part of the rape culture feedback loop.  After all, if women aren’t logical like men, then they are less than men–less than people.  And if they’re less than people, you don’t need to feel empathy for them, and it’s okay to grope them and harass them and embarrass them, and to make proposals in elevators and to drug their drinks.  After all, they’re just women, right?

And women aren’t the only ones being insulted here–men are, too, since the poster implies no men can understand  women, which personally offends me.  I’ve worked very hard to try to understand people, so implying that I can’t understand half the world’s population belittles my efforts and my intelligence.  If you can’t that’s fine (no it’s not), but don’t go I think the same way you do just because we happen to share a Y gene.

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