Brain Hamsters
"It’s just a video game!" and other sexism-in-games bingo squares

Big discussion incoming. Some common arguments that the Lara rape is okay:

1) It’s just a video game

The media that we are surrounded by and consume is not only representative of our behaviours, viewpoints, goals and ambitions in real life, but it INFLUENCES those things as well in a vicious cycle. It creates desensitization to these very issues. The very fact that so many people think (female) rape is okay and nothing to be alarmed by, and the very fact that a dev team did not apparently question whether the direction they were taking a young female protagonist in an adventure game was ethical or not, proves that an overabundance of this type of content has SKEWED the way people think about these issues. It’s not your fault you can’t see the wood for the trees. But that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t.


2) Shut up, it’s not rape. It’s attempted rape. There’s a difference!


Okay, but seriously. Point missed. Back of the class. If you think rape is only damaging when successful, you’re an idiot.


3) It’s more realistic! You Lara fanboys and dumb feminists just can’t stand seeing your franchise changed!

Let me remind you, Lara’s original origin story involves her parents, fiancé and all other passengers dying in a horrific plane crash. She is the ONLY survivor and her struggle to get out of this situation is her versus environment, while coping with the loss of everything she held dear to her.

That’s pretty harrowing, isn’t it? Isn’t that awful? Isn’t it awful, regardless of whether or not you’re male or female?

Oh, but I forgot. Women have to be in refrigerators. Losing loved ones and physical violence is only considered enough torment to undergo for a man, right? And what’s a good torture session if someone doesn’t try to rape you. Unless you ‘re a man, of course. Then it would be laughed out the window as a plot device.

I’m not opposed to a ‘gritty reboot’ that covers her tough, ‘realistic’ origin scenario. I’m not opposed to heroes undergoing harrowing situations, during the course of which they grow stronger. What I am opposed to is making the hero’s suffering the whole point of the game. What I am opposed to is idiot producers and game developers thinking that a female character cannot possibly be relatable, interesting, or viewed as human UNLESS she is weak and vulnerable and repeatedly broken. What I am opposed to is the idea that nobody would ever want to be Lara, because GIRL, so she has to be handled differently - we have to help her, not be her. What I am opposed to is rendering some of that torment sexual purely because Lara is female, when it would damn well never happen to a male protagonist. What I am opposed to is making this game purely for male gamers, and obliviously destroying a character who became a role model for many young female gamers IN SPITE of the fact that there were numerous attempts to oversexualise and misrepresent her, not necessarily in the games themselves but in marketing and surrounding discussion.

Do you realise Lara Croft went 5 games without even a sniff of a romantic sideplot? Do you realise how revolutionary that is for a main female character, in movies, games, books, anything? A female character considered complete enough on her own that finding a bf or being swept off her feet by a romantic interest, lasting or no, was NEVER a factor in her life? Now we’ve leapt from that quite frankly fucking unique situation to noncon.

People are acting like the only way to take a young, inexperienced and overconfident girl and turn her into a hardened, self-isolating, strong, independent character is to violently and repeatedly break her down and try and rape her and see what crawls out of the ashes. The people claiming this are inadvertently supporting the fact that the perception of women as characters is skewed as a result of consuming media like this. Media like this has made it acceptable in situations when it would never be acceptable for the opposite gender.

Producers certainly wouldn’t fucking BRAG about a male character being raped in dumbshit interviews.


4) Other games have included X, Y and Z! Where was your bitching when BLARGAAHDASD.

Actually, I have quite often been right there commenting when these issues are trying to be brought into greater light for discussion, and ethically questioned. Unfortunately, people like you are always trying to shut this conversation down, which means it remains a marginalised and readily dismissed discussion. Why should the devs take responsibility for perpetuating this bullshit when they have an army of misinformed and misunderstanding gamers (both male and female, actually) to do their dirty work for them?

On regular violence, I’ve seen a very common sexism-in-games bingo marker appear - the deflection. “Why is it okay to kill people and do other shit in video games, but rape is somehow different!” you cry! Well, you know what? Us discussing this does not somehow make it magically impossible for you to raise these other issues, if you actually care about them beyond trying to deflect and otherwise stifle discussion on THIS topic. In fact, some people are already discussing these issues. Some people are discussing the harmful effects of how males are represented in games, too. They are doing this SIMULTANEOUSLY somehow.

DAFUQ IS THIS?

The internet is a big place, and let me assure you, the social and ethical issues of representation in ALL entertainment media is a massively diverse issue. I’d be lying if I said female representation was the only or most important one. But it’s the one resonates with me the most, being a 25+ white female gamer who has gamed for a good 20 of those years. And so it’s the one I choose to personally discuss. I’ll leave stuff like male representation and gay representation and race representation to people are much more affected by those issues, and who are already doing a great job.


On sexual violence, I’ve specifically seen mentioned an apparent male rape scene in F.E.A.R. 2  and the treatment of women in Batman: Arkham Asylum. I’ve never played the former, nor ever heard anything about this supposed scene. A google search turned up very few relevant results. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but clearly it wasn’t bragged about by producers, or touted as a driving ambition for the game, or worse - it was swept under the rug. The latter I’ve seen and participated in discussion of already.

My point? This is a diverse issue, and everyone has varying levels of investment in all its nuances. Talking about one facet of the issue does not exclude discussion of other facets. And don’t assume people rallying against the new Tomb Raider have never disputed anything related in the games industry before.


5) It’s realistic for a group of guys to sexually  hound a lone female. It’s what would happen!


Glad to see you have so little faith in MANkind. I know it’s really hard to fathom that there are guys out there who don’t see women as pieces of meat to be humped, but you know, they exist! And it staggers me that more MALE gamers out there are not offended by this constant patronising bullshit you are marketed.
The ‘island scavengers’ who try to rape Lara are thus far represented in marketing and the trailers as an anonymous, dehumanised group of unidentified men. This is pretty common - it makes it difficult to actually assign blame or responsibility to anybody but the identified party.


Which is the woman. As per fucking usual.



6) Wait until it comes out and give it a chance!

Sorry. I’m not financially supporting any game with such an obliviously misogynistic producer. If that guy misrepresented the game and the ideology driving the game, then he needs to be issuing an apology and banning himself from speaking in public for his astounding stupidity.

7) The new TR is meant to be survival horror, not an adventure game.

When the very spirit and tone of an existing franchise are distorted beyond all familiar recognition, you know what you do? You create a new fucking IP. Characters cannot often be so viscerally divorced from their context. I don’t support Konami letting utterly clueless devs turn Silent Hill into a ‘dungeon crawler’, either, because it fucking MISSES THE POINT OF THE SERIES.

Silent Hill, yes. I actually don’t have a problem with horror (quite the opposite), and I don’t have a problem with sexual content. We’re humans, sex happens, it has an impact on us, it influences our behaviour and our relationships and our personalities and our lives.

But everything has its place. Unfortunately, Tomb Raider is not it for sexual assault and brutality.

I’m done. Commence your TL;DR’ing now or whatever, but just because you don’t care about this issue, don’t try and dismiss the people who do. You’re a part of the problem.