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Art isn't the Problem
by William Johnson on 04/27/13 12:38:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

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This is a response to Jeff Kunzler's A HANDY GUIDE FOR DUDES ON TWITTER: Knowing When You, A Man, Have Nothing to Contribute to a Discussion, Especially One Involving Women’s Issues


Art isn’t the problem. Role is.

I can’t help but feel Jeff Kunzler is attempting to slut shame the characters from Dragon Crown. How dare they be hyper sexualized with exaggerated effeminate features, right? Well, Kunzler seems to discredit his opponents arguments by calling them privileged white males, and while I’m sure that’s not inaccurate, the knife cuts both ways. Who is Kunzler to think he knows female problems and can speak for all woman kind?

While Kunzler doesn’t specifically say women should not be sexy, it can be inferred. How dare a woman be beautiful and strong and capable. Clearly playing as a hyper sexualized female that can stand toe to toe with their male counter parts; clearly that’s a sign of female oppression, right? No, that’s bullshit.

It would be if the effeminate features made the female characters weaker or made them helpless damsels in distress. If being female was actively disempowering towards the character. But they are not. The female characters are just as capable as their male counter parts.

Is exaggerated features a problem? No. Exaggeration is a part of art and by extension, video games. To ask for the female characters to be toned down is to take away what separates them from the male characters. If we remove their sexualization and yet try to retain them as female then we’d be left with only young prepubescent girls. Are we to assume that all women must be young girls with no hint of sexual inhibition or power in order to depict woman kind?

The art gives the female characters their personality. It creates these characters and sets them apart from their male counter parts. By taking away their exaggerated features you’d turn them in to boring characters that’d be completely over shadowed by the male characters. We’d be taking away what makes the female characters special.

So, why is this game, Dragon Crown, the problem compared to most other games? My guess, the hyper sexualized female characters reminds people they fear sex. Not like actual personal sex in the bed room (though it could be), but the idea of sex appeal being power. Feminism has embraced sex appeal. We no longer live in the 1970’s when feminism rejected all effeminate traits as weakness. Sex appeal and hyper sexualization is not weakness. It is not disempowering women. It is not something to fear or look away from. It is merely a trait of being female. Its also a trait of being male, but its not brought up as often, because men don’t understand when men are being sexy. But sex appeal and hyper sexualization are not bad things that are setting back women.

I don’t think video game art, like that from Dragon’s Crown, is a barrier to entry that keeps women out of video games. It will keep some women out and some men out, sure. But if you’ve say something everyone likes, you’ve said nothing at all. Art should be edgy, exaggerated, bold, unafraid, and not be not offensive to everyone.

To attack the art of Dragon Crown’s does a disservice to all the strives modern feminism has made. The female playable characters are empowered, they are strong, are capable, and are just as good as the male characters. I haven’t played the game yet, so I could be wrong about some possible narrative context of the female characters. If they actually are disempowered compared to the male characters for just being female; then yes, there is a problem there. But from what I know so far, the art is not a problem and is not something to hold against the game.


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