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Friday, April 5, 2013

Tekkoshocon and other objectifiable things

Ah yes, Pittsburgh, home to the furries and also Tekkoshocon

Now, this may piss off one side or the other, I’m not sure.  In any case, here goes.

I’m a guy.  I’m as red blooded as the next stereotypical version of a guy.
I watch Game of Thrones for the breathtaking locales and expositional dialogue as much for everything else.
I’ve played video games for decades and I loved Tomb Raider when it came out. 

All of these ideas are pointing towards the sexual objectification of females in media.

(This is the point where I totally get shit wrong about cons and manga and anime and comics but bear with me.)
If I were to walk around Tekkoshocon, I’d be looking.  First, because I’m not used to seeing people dressed up in costume outside of Halloween.    Secondly, because well…  It’s gonna happen.  You know it is.  And by that definition, shit be effed up. Necessarily

Let me put it this way.   And, I know this is the wrong genre, but let’s say a girl dresses up for a con like Power Girl.  Does she warrant unwanted behavior based on her clothes?  Will she receive unwanted behavior based on her clothes.

No. Probably. 

Now, take that same girl and put her in a costume she found on the Internet under the “Sexy (Insert Benign Occupation Here) Costume”  and do you think that changes anything?

My point is that one, the system is broken.    

Whether or not that girl chooses the superhero costume or the sexy garbage worker costume, she is opening herself to unwanted negative behavior.  Does she deserve it?  No.  But if I were to walk around some neighborhoods with hundred dollar bills hanging out of my pocket, I should expect some unwanted negative behavior.  Doesn’t mean I deserve it.    It’s totally my right to do it, but shit may happen.  I should be ready for it.   If I just happen to walk around a neighborhood that I don’t belong in, everything tucked in my pockets, I may get some looks, but the chance of it ending badly is probably lessened.

The system is broken in the objectifying case because media is to blame.  The artists, the writers, the game developers, actors, directors, all of them have held such a male centric target demographic for so long that they need to evolve just like everything else in this world does.   Comic Book artists created girl protagonists that are strong, but a majority of them are drawn with rather improbable proportions.    Power Girl is probably a great role model.  Powers, abilities, does good deeds.  She just happens to be drawn with a large chest and most of her top missing in key areas. 

And while I am still missing the point between comparing comic books to anime or manga in this case, my point is universal.  There will be people who dress up for these cons as the characters they identify with or want to emulate.  Some will dress to impress, either with complexity or… simplicity in their costume.    Unless they dress to conceal their entire body, say in a full costume with mask, they want to be noticed.  They want to be looked at.  Maybe for thumbs up on their creativity or effort in constructing said costume.  Yet, some will be there to get the nerd juices flowing.   Be ready for some of that unwanted negative behavior, though.

It’s 2013 and we still don’t get it yet.  Men still run the world.   If a woman does it as well or better, she’s either a heartless bitch, a fake, or a lesbian.    I know that sounds horrible in that context but think about it.    If a woman created a comic book character or whatever and it was purely for reasons of strength and intelligence, and did not show up scantily clad to save the day, people would assume she’s a feminist or one of those people who spell women wrong.    Whether or not  the material was top notch, it would get panned or not receive the following it would deserve.

Look at Ripley from Alien.   The character wears a jump suit for the entire movie.   Loses everyone on that ship to the Alien.   Faces down certain death.  Survives. Wins.  Spends the end of the movie in a tight tank and a pair of panties while duking it out with a giant creature with a phallic chomping second mouth.    Even the inspiration for Alien came from the Sci-Fi monster movies of the 50s and 60s, most where the monster is carrying the damsel, who is objectified by her manner of dress and restraint.

Horror movies use the concept of the final girl.  Halloween sort of sparked that idea with Laurie Strode.  The final girl is usually virginal and pure... because that's sexy while maintaining an innocence.   The monster is there to take her innocence, in which we mean kill her.   The promiscuous girls get killed.  It's almost somewhat religious or allegorical in nature.  Yet, most movies have final girls that are the embodiment of what sells, which is sex.  Ripley at the end.  Jessica Biel in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. 

The gaming industry introduced Lara Croft, much to the delight of gamer boys in their teens and 20s.   Over the years, as the technology rendered a more lifelike Lara, her dimensions changed.  Her shorts got shorter.  Her tops got tighter.   Even Angelina Jolie helped boost that image as did the promotional models who appeared as Lara at cons and events.  With the reboot, they’ve toned down the image of Lara, but really all they’ve done is made her younger.    Lara had become Demi Moore and the fans (Ashton Kutcher) still wanted the same looks on his gal, just 20 years younger.  

Girls who play video games have a lot of stigma to overcome either through the industry’s male centric characterization or the few brash and stereotypical representatives who ruin it for the core subset of the gender.

Girls either get picked on for trying to play the same games as boys or they get hit on or objectified.   Quite frankly, you have to understand that for every nerd who is a nice guy, there are ten others who are too socially awkward to understand that just because a girl plays video games, it doesn’t mean they stand a chance.   Common interests don’t make up for lack of chemistry and compatibility.    And both genders have to also realize that anyone who plays games can like any game and still be considered a gamer as much as the core subset of gamers need to realize that yes, in fact, Angry Birds is a game.  As much as they hate that Farmville gets used to denote a gamer.  I  know.  I don’t get it myself, but whatever.

The point is, don’t objectify the person you see.  Do see the person, objectively.

And don’t stare at the girls in cosplay.  They don’t like it.

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