Shrinking your target market to those who are willing to ignore or gloss over misogyny seems to be en vogue.
This cover is not just “bad art”. It isn’t some high school kid showing his first try at a comic cover on DeviantArt, and a bunch of bullies going after him in the comments. This was a cover done by a professional, approved by an editor, and released by a major corporation.
This cover twists Catwoman in unnatural ways to show “the only parts worth looking at”. She is a collection of tits and ass with a head stuck on almost as an afterthought. This isn’t cheesecake. This is “for the male gaze” taken to its ridiculous apex. And a major corporation looked at this cover, thought “this will separate people from their money”, and proudly displayed it as part of the Issue 0 publicity stunt.
But don’t worry geek girls, things get worse.
Lara Croft, while being the poster woman for physical objectification of female characters in video games, has always been a BAMF. She’s Indiana Jones with Barbie’s body. More than that, she’s a geek cultural touchstone, which is why the news surrounding her newest game is so disturbing.
According to executive producer Ron Rosenberg via kotaku.com,”When people play Lara, they don’t really project themselves into the character. They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.'”
So we can’t relate to the main character in one of the most popular video game franchises ever? Are you sure that is what you meant to say? I never realized that when your gender doesn’t match up to the main character’s in a game you only became invested in the game to protect that character. Now I feel like I’ve been letting Batman down every time I’ve played Arkham City. Or is it only female characters that need to be protected?
Of course, that’s not the disturbing part. This is:
RON: “And then what happens is her best friend gets kidnapped, she gets taken prisoner by scavengers on the island. They try to rape her, and-“
KOTAKU: “They try to rape her?”
RON: “She’s literally turned into a cornered animal. And that’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s either forced to fight back or die and that’s what we’re showing today.”
A rape scene. This is the part where I stop being sarcastic and funny. This is the part when I become really serious. There is a part in this video game where if you don’t fight back hard enough, this character that you are supposed to, according to the executive producer, be protecting, gets raped and killed.
Now, after the internet firestorm, the company is trying to deny that the attempted rape scene is an attempted rape scene. This disputed scene is in the trailer starting at 2:19. You can look for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
Surviving sexual assault as entertainment. This is unacceptable. And we wouldn’t be having this conversation if we were watching a trailer for a male character’s origin story.
Is it so hard to treat female characters decently? Or at least as well as the male characters?
My geek girl money isn’t bad. It’s not dirty. It doesn’t have cooties. But if these companies think for one second that I will be willing to separate myself from my hard earned cash for entertainment that treats my gender as less important, less capable, less human than my male counterparts, they’re wrong. I shouldn’t have to beg entertainment companies to want my money, they should be enticing me to spend it.