"Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

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General_Norris
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:36 pm UTC

So many people are creating a double standard here:

It's bad for a man to save a woman but it's fine for a woman to save a man.

Double standard at work. So even if you argue for "postive" discrimination you are sexist because you are the one saying X character is defined by their sex even if you don't have enough evidence so as to state so.

Also there's a lot of begging the question even if it's not intentionall. A man saving a woman is different from "in most narratives men always save women", very different. There's an extrapolation from a general trend to a specific case and that's fallacious unless you want to argue that the above double standard is not a double standard which I find laughable.

I don't understand what's so difficult to comprehend. If Mario rescued his son the story would be exactly the same, in fact, that's the plot of Donkey Kong Jr. the sequel to Donkey Kong. You are being sexist when you try to differentiate the story if the character is male or female. If Pauline were Jumpman's son he would be as "item" as her! I recommend reading about McGuffins and characters as plot device in Tvtropes.

Do anyone here have any evidence so as to say that Donkey Kong is sexist other than "there's a sexist trend"?

@Kendo

Yes, there's a lot of sexim involved including male and female targeted sexim.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby jakovasaur » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:51 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:Also there's a lot of begging the question even if it's not intentionall. A man saving a woman is different from "in most narratives men always save women", very different. There's an extrapolation from a general trend to a specific case and that's fallacious unless you want to argue that the above double standard is not a double standard which I find laughable.


How can you understand a general trend except as a composite of specific cases? No one is denying that if you remove any particular instance of this trope from ALL CONTEXT, then you could deny there is any sexism. However, that's simply not the issue we are dealing with.
Let's say I'm evaluating the hiring practices of Hooters. If I randomly select one employee, I can't make any assumptions about their practices and hiring criteria. Hell, I might even end up with one of their male employees. However, if I were to look at the entire staff, within the context of the restaurant's theme and advertising, I think it's safe to say I could draw some conclusions about what factors are important in the hiring process.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Zamfir » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:35 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:I don't understand what's so difficult to comprehend. If Mario rescued his son the story would be exactly the same, in fact, that's the plot of Donkey Kong Jr. the sequel to Donkey Kong. You are being sexist when you try to differentiate the story if the character is male or female. If Pauline were Jumpman's son he would be as "item" as her! I recommend reading about McGuffins and characters as plot device in Tvtropes.

I'd the rough guide is this: if there is good reason to assume that Nintendo seriously considered having a female hero to rescue her boyfriend and her son, and just accidentally went with a male hero, than you can say that sexism had little to do with it.

Perhaps this is the case with Donkey Kong, I don;t know anything about that. But for many, many plots, there was obviously never a point in the development were the rescueing hero would NOT be a man. Take a look at Hollywood movies, not just action movies but movies in general. By far most movies have a male main protagonist. Some have a female co-star, but outside of chick-flicks very few movies get a sole female lead. It's the default situation. For most, but not all of those plots, no one even considered having a female lead or the female lead was automaticvaly rejected on "doesn't feel good" grounds, and in those cases even the single cases are sexist.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:56 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:It's bad for a man to save a woman but it's fine for a woman to save a man.

"Bad" and "good" are kind of silly words to use here. Rather, a man saving a woman (in a text, at least) reinforces a persistent and pervasive cultural narrative which supports the persistent and pervasive social structure subordinating women to men. Narratives about women saving men play into subversive narratives, but subversive narratives by definition are opposed to rather than supportive of hegemonies (I generalize; all texts are complicated and tend to interact with tropes in both constructive and deconstructive ways).

General_Norris wrote:I don't understand what's so difficult to comprehend.

I thought this sentence was funny, so now it is my signature.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:06 pm UTC

jakovasaur wrote:How can you understand a general trend except as a composite of specific cases?


Society being sexist doesn't mean you are. So, prove me that Donkey Kong is sexist.


I'd the rough guide is this: if there is good reason to assume that Nintendo seriously considered having a female hero to rescue her boyfriend and her son, and just accidentally went with a male hero, than you can say that sexism had little to do with it.


Nintendo is a publisher, the one who created the story was Miyamoto. He appeared one day and told the programmers he wanted three characters drawn X way and they did so, we don't know what Miyamoto thought. He could have pondered about the characters during days or just had an idea and wrote it down in a napkin. It doesn't need to go to development.

And more importantly, you will never know. You say that they are sexist unless proven false! What about presuncion of innocence? If I open the door to the girl who is walking after me, am I sexist until I prove you otherwise? I don't think so.

There are tons of reasons why a certain story may have a character made some way. There's sexism, there are author avatars, there are copycats, there are films made with a certain actor in mind, there is commercial preassure, there is policical correctness hiding the truth, there are thousands of reasons and thinking sexism with no proof is unreasonable and quite offensive to the author in question.

EDIT:

"Bad" and "good" are kind of silly words to use here. Rather, a man saving a woman (in a text, at least) reinforces a persistent and pervasive cultural narrative which supports the persistent and pervasive social structure subordinating women to men. Narratives about women saving men play into subversive narratives, but subversive narratives by definition are opposed to rather than supportive of hegemonies (I generalize; all texts are complicated and tend to interact with tropes in both constructive and deconstructive ways).


As I said before, it also reinforces equalism which is important.

And yes, excuse my French. I knew that sentence would bring me problems.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Random832 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:15 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:I don't care about the Swastika because it doesn't have anything good attached to it


Except for, you know, being a religious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. (Now, maybe you're saying religion isn't good - but it's certainly not something that would be generally agreed to be inherently offensive). You can of course split hairs by saying that it's only bad if it's facing a certain way and turned up 45 degrees, but that doesn't really stop everyone else from attaching that meaning to all the other versions.

Which leads us to another anime/manga example - Blade of the Immortal.

Sindayven wrote:It's fairly difficult to make any judgement with so little context. Subversions of such a trope aren't generally noted as being so. Say you have the president being kidnapped by ninjas, and the princess being kidnapped by Bowser. They're both kidnappings of important political figures, yet only one of them seems to be relevant to the trend. Is there a certain number of counter-examples that we must have before one damsel in distress is acceptable?

It looks to me like eliminating the sexist trends of these plotlines would require completely removing all instances that could have interpretations of female inferiority (which seems to already be happening in commercials, as has been somewhat mentioned). Though having only men being victimised could start to become its own problem.


Presented without comment - I thought this was an interesting point and it was the second to last post on the previous page so making sure people didn't miss it.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 09, 2009 4:15 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:So many people are creating a double standard here:

It's bad for a man to save a woman but it's fine for a woman to save a man.
Again, you're failing to parse the fact that a story becomes different depending on its context. When a man rescues a woman in a sexist society (one that slots women as 'need-rescuing'), sexist concepts are reinforced; when a man rescues a woman in a non-sexist society, nothing is reinforced.
Random832 wrote:
Sindayven wrote:It's fairly difficult to make any judgement with so little context. Subversions of such a trope aren't generally noted as being so. Say you have the president being kidnapped by ninjas, and the princess being kidnapped by Bowser. They're both kidnappings of important political figures, yet only one of them seems to be relevant to the trend. Is there a certain number of counter-examples that we must have before one damsel in distress is acceptable?

It looks to me like eliminating the sexist trends of these plotlines would require completely removing all instances that could have interpretations of female inferiority (which seems to already be happening in commercials, as has been somewhat mentioned). Though having only men being victimised could start to become its own problem.


Presented without comment - I thought this was an interesting point and it was the second to last post on the previous page so making sure people didn't miss it.
I actually didn't see that post, so thanks. Emphasis mine.

Subversions are not simply refraining from participating in the trope. The President being kidnapped by ninjas isn't a subversion of the damsel-in-distress trope unless we somehow draw a connection there (The President was dressed up as a damsel for halloween, and the ninjas got confused). Rather, subversions must call attention to the trope they're subverting - otherwise they're not attacks on the trope itself (one of the reasons subversions are so useful from an entertainment point of view is because they attack our expectations; but if we don't even notice what you're subverting, our expectations remain intact - so why bother?).

There is a big point (and problem) with the notion of removing all sexist plotlines, though--and yes, this is one of the reasons I like to emphasize that when I say something is sexist (or reinforces sexism, if you prefer), that doesn't mean we have to stop doing it, just acknowledge it. Every time a man rescues a woman, that is reinforcing sexism. What this means is that if we got downright deadly about excising everything from our culture that reinforces sexism, we'd have to never allow any man to rescue any woman in any story. That would be, ah, a problem. And what if we started applying this morally aggressive stance to everything else? Like, racism - well, you can't show a black person taking orders from a white person (that reinforces racism in some respects). Etc. And it gets more extreme the further you go.

It's impossible to even exist without adding drops to someone's bucket, and we're more interested in pursuing our personal happiness than insuring every single one of our actions fails to reinforce something bad. So it's unrealistic to ask that everyone refrain from reinforcing something evil with every action they take - rather, we ask that people just be aware of those reinforcements, and furthermore, when they're especially grievous (and it's not particularly important to your happiness), to try and refrain. Oh, and try to subvert some things when you can (I AM LOOKING AT YOU JOSS WHEDON).

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:32 pm UTC

Random832 wrote:
General_Norris wrote:I don't care about the Swastika because it doesn't have anything good attached to it

Except for, you know, being a religious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism


Yes, I didn't think about it when I wrote that.


@The Great Hippo

You may consider that it supports sexism if we follow your logic, yes. However it's kind of far-fetched and the effects not exactly quantificable. How many people who have played Dokey Kong are more sexist than they were before playing it?. Is worth a drop of water telling everyone to be sexist (Making the character's sex matter) in order not to have a sexist effect in society?

Do you think it's worth changing the character I love and who I have created to female because some sexist bastard is going to feel reinforced? I don't think so. In fact this quite remembers me of "5 hours with Mario", one of the greatest Spanish books of the XX century (and one of the most boring, seriously).

Basically it's hundreds of pages of rant of a racist, stupid franquist woman who criticices his now-deceased husband because he believes in such crap as democracy and making his daughter study instead of becoming a real woman (Kitchen and so on).

Someone who lived during the franquist regime would take it at face but your response would be of total anger, total anger towards the stupid woman and her stupid franquist regime. It's a subtle deconstruction and a very well written one. So, do you think of it as a critique or as franquist propaganda?

The problem with saying something is sexist if it promotes sexism is evident. It leads to troublesome situations and offends people. I don't think it's a good definition.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:49 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:You may consider that it supports sexism if we follow your logic, yes. However it's kind of far-fetched and the effects not exactly quantificable. How many people who have played Dokey Kong are more sexist than they were before playing it?. Is worth a drop of water telling everyone to be sexist (Making the character's sex matter) in order not to have a sexist effect in society?
I'm not sure what you're saying here; I'm really only interested in having everyone take responsibility for what they contribute to sexist culture. Donkey Kong isn't a huge contribution, but it's a contribution--the fact that there are (literally) hundreds of games that follow this trope played by millions of people--the fact that there are thousands of movies that follow this trope watched by millions of people--the fact that there are countless examples of similar tropes, expressed in countless numbers of other mediums, watched and enjoyed by countless numbers of other people--all of this eventually adds up to the environmental pressures that lead to a man beating a woman because she didn't act the way a woman is supposed to act.
General_Norris wrote:Do you think it's worth changing the character I love and who I have created to female because some sexist bastard is going to feel reinforced? I don't think so. In fact this quite remembers me of "5 hours with Mario", one of the greatest Spanish books of the XX century (and one of the most boring, seriously).
Uh, no? I mean, maybe? It depends; is it worth it to you? Is it worth it to the people who created the icon? I'm not so much interested in telling people how they should act as asking them to take responsibility for how they act. If you pay taxes, remember--some of those taxes fund rape and murder. If you're Christian, remember--some of that will go to validating Christians who beat and murder other people. If you enjoy sexist tropes, remember--some of that will validate a culture that abuses and murders people who do not abide by the identity those tropes create. Again, I'm not interested in controlling your choices, I just want you to make informed ones.
General_Norris wrote:The problem with saying something is sexist if it promotes sexism is evident. It leads to troublesome situations and offends people. I don't think it's a good definition.
Telling people that they are responsible for their actions tends to offend them. I'm not sure if changing my language to 'reinforces sexist concepts' is going to change their response; I'm pretty sure most people respond with hostility when you inform them that their actions have consequences (however small those consequences may be). Human nature and all that.

Besides, I hate PC language.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:12 pm UTC

The Greay Hippo wrote:Uh, no? I mean, maybe? It depends; is it worth it to you? Is it worth it to the people who created the icon? I'm not so much interested in telling people how they should act as asking them to take responsibility for how they act. If you pay taxes, remember--some of those taxes fund rape and murder. If you're Christian, remember--some of that will go to validating Christians who beat and murder other people. If you enjoy sexist tropes, remember--some of that will validate a culture that abuses and murders people who do not abide by the identity those tropes create. Again, I'm not interested in controlling your choices, I just want you to make informed ones.


If you are feminist you also validate those who think men should be destroyed because they are the cause of all evil.

Do you agree with that idea?

(Yes, I know it harsh)

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:36 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:If you are feminist you also validate those who think men should be destroyed because they are the cause of all evil.
Is the end result of this an evil? Are there feminists going around murdering men? If so, yes - I am contributing to their actions (I might believe that my validation of their actions is worth the validation of other actions committed by feminists). If not, then no - ideology is meaningless in the face of actual action. The fact that an organization says "KILL ALL MEN!" is irrelevant if no men are dying as a result of this ideology. If no men are abused because of hatred toward men, hatred toward men is fine. If they are, it is, and I accept that what I do may contribute to that.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby somebody already took it » Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:38 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:So many people are creating a double standard here:
...
Also there's a lot of begging the question even if it's not intentional.

Who is creating a double standard?
Who is begging the question?
By failing to provide quotes you risk making a straw man argument and you risk repeating claims that have previously been rebuffed.

Are there feminists going around murdering men?

Valerie Solanas attempted to murder Andy Warhol:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerie_Solanas#Attempted_assassination_of_Andy_Warhol

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Is the end result of this an evil? Are there feminists going around murdering men? If so, yes - I am contributing to their actions (I might believe that my validation of their actions is worth the validation of other actions committed by feminists). If not, then no - ideology is meaningless in the face of actual action. The fact that an organization says "KILL ALL MEN!" is irrelevant if no men are dying as a result of this ideology. If no men are abused because of hatred toward men, hatred toward men is fine. If they are, it is, and I accept that what I do may contribute to that.


Ok. Sorry for being harsh, wanted to check. I value consistency very highly (Though your phrasing is often very problematic, like this last paragraph lol). Even if I disagree with you I think you are a nice debate companion.

(The sentence "nice debate companion" is werid as hell, doesn't it?)

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby guenther » Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:18 pm UTC

Rinsaikeru wrote:Women aren't looked down on for dressing in what was traditionally men's clothing. (Say pants, fedora, tie, suspenders etc). If you flip the genders however, men are not as able to wear clothing traditionally associated with women--in fact it can result in violence to his person. Why is this?

Because in one case the woman is trying to emulate a man-as it should be right? She's inferior and trying to emulate a grown up, cute. In the other a man is attempting to copy an 'inferior.'

Having this belief seems key to your argument. But I don't share it. I have a different reaction when seeing a man in a dress as opposed to a woman in a suit. But I don't believe for a second that it's because deep down I believe that women are inferior to men.

I see no evil in having expectation differences between genders. The evil I see is when I hold someone in contempt for not conforming to my expectation. I think we disagree on where the evil is, and thus disagree on the harm caused by those tropes.

somebody already took it wrote:That is sort of a Non Sequitur. I don't think I ever established my goal as being linking anything to feelings of superiority.

I'll leave the clothing stuff behind, but here I was applying a litmus test. If someone makes a claim of sexism but isn't referring to feelings of superiority based on gender, they are using a different definition of sexism than me. If you say you don't define it based on equal representation, then I believe you. But I still don't know how you define it.

The Great Hippo wrote:A certain depiction of women on the screen reaffirms the gender expectations we have of women; women as people to be rescued reinforces the classic gender expectations of women - and it's the classic gender expectations of women that lead to violence and abuse.

This is your belief, not mine. I think it's the contempt. Classically, gender roles and contempt went hand-in-hand. And I very much believe we needed a cultural shift, but it was to get rid of the contempt, not the gender roles. And when men and women can object to old roles without being hated, then culture can adapt and find a better solution. (Which I absolutely don't believe is the absence of gender roles.)

I think the key to fixing this stuff is enabling ourselves to empathize with others. And every time we defend a reason to be contemptuous of someone else, we defeat that goal. Hating for not complying to gender roles and hating for even believing in gender roles are equally bad. Everyone wants to argue why they have a moral right to hate and the other person doesn't. (And though we are quick to call the latter hate, we will almost never call the former hate.)

If I apply this perspective to tropes, this is the picture I get: The story where the man saves the woman is perfectly healthy. It has good values, perhaps just for men, of men making sacrifices to do what's right (the same thing if the man saves the world). If women don't want to be depicted as objects that need saving, they should get a voice too and tell their story. The problem is the absence of her story, not the presence of someone else's story. And when we see someone's values displayed narratively in a story, we can relate very well to it. It allows us to better empathize with people in differing plights and holding different (though perhaps not conflicting) values. That empathy is key.

The Great Hippo wrote:If no men are abused because of hatred toward men, hatred toward men is fine. If they are, it is, and I accept that what I do may contribute to that.

I can't disagree with this statement more. Hate should be opposed always. That's the villain. We need to care about each other. But I think people want to keep hate around and call it other names because it's so useful. (Useful for short-term agendas, but I think it's ultimately very destructive.)

Zamfir wrote:For most, but not all of those plots, no one even considered having a female lead or the female lead was automaticvaly rejected on "doesn't feel good" grounds, and in those cases even the single cases are sexist.

Why is this sexist? Why do men and women need to equally "feel good" for every conceivable role? And if they don't, does it represents a problem that needs fixed?
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby EmptySet » Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:40 am UTC

guenther wrote:I see no evil in having expectation differences between genders. The evil I see is when I hold someone in contempt for not conforming to my expectation. I think we disagree on where the evil is, and thus disagree on the harm caused by those tropes.

...

I think it's the contempt. Classically, gender roles and contempt went hand-in-hand. And I very much believe we needed a cultural shift, but it was to get rid of the contempt, not the gender roles. And when men and women can object to old roles without being hated, then culture can adapt and find a better solution. (Which I absolutely don't believe is the absence of gender roles.)


If nobody is held in contempt or criticised or pressured for not conforming to a gender role - in other words if gender roles were not enforced - why would they still exist? I mean, in the absence of gender roles, everyone would just do what they thought was appropriate regardless of their gender. In a world where gender roles somehow exist but are not enforced, wouldn't everyone would also just do what they thought was appropriate regardless of gender, since there are no consequences to doing otherwise? Furthermore, if nobody is to be criticised for straying from the established role, wouldn't that imply that the other options are equally valid and acceptable? In that case why does the role exist? What is its purpose, if it isn't somehow better or more desirable than the alternatives?

The existence of gender roles implies that there is an expectation that people will act in a certain way according to their gender, and I think this inevitably results in prejudice ("Oh! I didn't invite you to our gaming night because I assumed you wouldn't be interested - after all, women aren't supposed to like games") and people who go against the trend being treated as some kind of strange mythical creature and constantly pestered about their decision, even if they are not necessarily treated with contempt ("You're not drinking? Why not? I'll shout you if you can't afford it. You don't want to? Why not?"). Even if you don't exactly hold people who are different "in contempt", they will still feel pressured to conform.

guenther wrote:If I apply this perspective to tropes, this is the picture I get: The story where the man saves the woman is perfectly healthy. It has good values, perhaps just for men, of men making sacrifices to do what's right (the same thing if the man saves the world). If women don't want to be depicted as objects that need saving, they should get a voice too and tell their story. The problem is the absence of her story, not the presence of someone else's story. And when we see someone's values displayed narratively in a story, we can relate very well to it. It allows us to better empathize with people in differing plights and holding different (though perhaps not conflicting) values. That empathy is key.


"A story" where a man saves a woman would be fine, if it were published in a vacuum. The problem is when men are overwhelmingly depicted as the saver and women as the savee (and, usually, as fragile, helpless, and in need of rescuing) it starts to imply that these "good values" are manly virtues, and that a woman possessing such virtues is unusual. Furthermore, the common use of the damsel-in-distress trope clearly has roots in Ye Olde Chivalric Traditione and other outdated value systems in which women explicitly were regarded as weak and in constant need of protection from the strong, manly men.

guenther wrote:
Zamfir wrote:For most, but not all of those plots, no one even considered having a female lead or the female lead was automaticvaly rejected on "doesn't feel good" grounds, and in those cases even the single cases are sexist.

Why is this sexist? Why do men and women need to equally "feel good" for every conceivable role? And if they don't, does it represents a problem that needs fixed?


Why wouldn't women be considered equally suitable for the hero role? What is it that makes them unsuitable for it? Are women universally weaker or less heroic than men, and therefore not suited to saving the day? Is it perhaps morally wrong for women to take an active role, instead of baking cakes or whatever it is they do?

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby guenther » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:58 am UTC

EmptySet wrote:If nobody is held in contempt or criticised or pressured for not conforming to a gender role - in other words if gender roles were not enforced - why would they still exist?

I didn't say they wouldn't be criticized. I think we can be critical without being scornful, though certainly it requires more care. Social pressure is OK (and important in my opinion), so long as we aren't withholding our goodness in order to get compliance.

And I think gender roles would stick around without enforcement in the same way religion has. It provides value. In my opinion, belief in "You should" statements are an encoding of wisdom. If a group believes that women should stay home with the kids instead of having a career, presumably more would, and the community would gain value from that, if that behavior really provides value. If the value isn't there, people will try new roles. It's an adaptive process, one that has more freedom to change with the times because there would be less social pressure to conform. And if it turns out that all wisdom applies equally well to men and women, then roles would vanish. But I don't think that will happen.

EmptySet wrote:Why wouldn't women be considered equally suitable for the hero role? What is it that makes them unsuitable for it? Are women universally weaker or less heroic than men, and therefore not suited to saving the day? Is it perhaps morally wrong for women to take an active role, instead of baking cakes or whatever it is they do?

My image of story tellers is that they want to sell stories to consumers. It could be that they have an agenda to define roles as they "should be", but my guess is that if a different depiction sells better, they'll switch to it. So if men appear in hero roles more often, it's because it sells better. I believe the media industry is largely not sexist. (In general, I don't see too many movies about holding traditional values, actually quite the opposite.)

One could argue the movie watchers are sexist, but I have yet to see any evidence for this other than "we live in a sexist society, so clearly it must be sexist." If you define "sexist" to mean deviation from equal representation in various roles, then it's sexist by definition, and unintuitive in my opinion.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:53 am UTC

guenther wrote:Having this belief seems key to your argument. But I don't share it. I have a different reaction when seeing a man in a dress as opposed to a woman in a suit. But I don't believe for a second that it's because deep down I believe that women are inferior to men.

I see no evil in having expectation differences between genders. The evil I see is when I hold someone in contempt for not conforming to my expectation. I think we disagree on where the evil is, and thus disagree on the harm caused by those tropes.
The evil is in the abuse. Nothing else, nothing less. When someone does harm to someone else, that is evil. But when you take actions--or possess attitudes--that allows that abuse to happen, that validates that abuse, that gives it weight and power--you are contributing to that abuse. That contribution is not evil in of itself, but it's still contribution.
guenther wrote:This is your belief, not mine. I think it's the contempt. Classically, gender roles and contempt went hand-in-hand. And I very much believe we needed a cultural shift, but it was to get rid of the contempt, not the gender roles. And when men and women can object to old roles without being hated, then culture can adapt and find a better solution. (Which I absolutely don't believe is the absence of gender roles.)
So you think the only people who ever abuse women for stepping out of their gender roles are people who hate women who step out of their gender roles? You don't think abuse ever happens in an otherwise loving setting?
guenther wrote:I think the key to fixing this stuff is enabling ourselves to empathize with others. And every time we defend a reason to be contemptuous of someone else, we defeat that goal. Hating for not complying to gender roles and hating for even believing in gender roles are equally bad.
Homosexuals are viciously brutalized because of hate they face for failing to conform to gender roles. That's one of the consequences of gender roles; people do violence to homosexuals for not conforming to them. That's what that form of hate leads to.

Hate for believing in gender roles... What sort of violence does that lead to? Is the amount of abuse inflicted on others based on this form of hate in any way comparable to the amount of abuse inflicted on those people who defy gender roles?
guenther wrote:I can't disagree with this statement more. Hate should be opposed always. That's the villain. We need to care about each other. But I think people want to keep hate around and call it other names because it's so useful. (Useful for short-term agendas, but I think it's ultimately very destructive.)
This sentiment frustrates the fuck out of me, so I apologize in advance if I sound a little exasperated. But I am talking about people getting killed and raped and you're talking about how hate is this evil, malignant, magical thing--how it's the villain. The villain is the abuse. That's what we oppose, that's what we must stop. And hate isn't always the root cause of abuse (it's certainly a factor, but plenty of abusers love their victims--others abuse out of fear, or indifference, or even boredom).

Rather, oppose the means by which people are abused. That which facilitates abuse, that which contributes to abuse, that which allows us to accept abuse. Sharpen your focus here--hatred is a red herring. I don't care who you hate. I care who you abuse. If your hatred leads to abuse (either committed by you, or by lending someone else the authority to abuse), now we're talking; if not, I don't care, and I don't see why anyone else should either.

I know you said you understand the stakes, but think about them again anyway: People are suffering right now. Being raped, being killed, being murdered. We're surrounded by moral crisis. And you're concerned about the 'evils' of some emotion that factors into maybe a third of this? The ONLY thing important is the abuse itself; the ONLY thing that we must oppose is the abuse itself. Everything we do as moral creatures must be to the end of protecting others from harm. Anything else is just ideological masturbation. Opposing hatred for the sake of hatred being somehow 'evil' on its own is like opposing dehydration as evil while a man is dying of thirst at your feet and you're chugging a gallon jug of Deer Lake Spring Water. I'm not usually one to say "We have bigger fish to fry", but yeah, we got MUCH bigger fish to fry.

Again, I don't mean to sound like an ass, but it often feels like when someone focuses on the evil of 'hate' or how we need to just 'treat people better', they're less interested in moral results and more interested in just filling out their personal Ethics Score Card.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:37 am UTC

I think people is good enough at hating so as to always produce abuse.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby guenther » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:47 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:This sentiment frustrates the fuck out of me, so I apologize in advance if I sound a little exasperated.

Lucky for me I don't get offended easy. :) I understand frustration and the feeling is mutual, so I can't blame you for exasperation. There comes a point where we will have to recognize our inability to convince the other. You have a very different perspective on how the world does and should work.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Rinsaikeru » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:00 am UTC

Random individualized nearly arbitrary hate will likely always be part of the human experience.

Institutionalized misogyny doesn't have to be there. There isn't anything inherently wrong with the trope we're discussing except that it represents a large part of the "______ in distress" narrative. If it were common to find princes in distress too it wouldn't be an issue. We've gone through this several times at this point however.

I certainly don't agree with guenther about gender roles--in the first place: it's not possible to tell that men or women actually prefer one role or another until such point as it's a free choice. (Hint: it's not yet) While you might believe in gender roles--and that might be why you support the sexist damsel narrative, you should consider that until such point as we can actually choose free and clear what roles (if any) we want to follow, we can't determine whether there even are any real gender roles that aren't socially imprinted on young children.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby EmptySet » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:14 am UTC

guenther wrote:
EmptySet wrote:If nobody is held in contempt or criticised or pressured for not conforming to a gender role - in other words if gender roles were not enforced - why would they still exist?

I didn't say they wouldn't be criticized. I think we can be critical without being scornful, though certainly it requires more care. Social pressure is OK (and important in my opinion), so long as we aren't withholding our goodness in order to get compliance.

And I think gender roles would stick around without enforcement in the same way religion has. It provides value. In my opinion, belief in "You should" statements are an encoding of wisdom. If a group believes that women should stay home with the kids instead of having a career, presumably more would, and the community would gain value from that, if that behavior really provides value. If the value isn't there, people will try new roles. It's an adaptive process, one that has more freedom to change with the times because there would be less social pressure to conform. And if it turns out that all wisdom applies equally well to men and women, then roles would vanish. But I don't think that will happen.


Tangent: Religion is frequently enforced. Walk into any debate about atheism and you'll see plenty of people holding the other side in contempt. See also the threads in "Dear SB" about atheists "coming out".

In any event, how do you think social pressure is being applied, if not with the (implied) threat of scorn, exclusion, or withholding something, should you fail to comply? Also, people have done stupid things and inefficient things for thousands of years. They will stick to gender roles which do not provide "value", as you put it, merely because it is a social norm.

guenther wrote:
EmptySet wrote:Why wouldn't women be considered equally suitable for the hero role? What is it that makes them unsuitable for it? Are women universally weaker or less heroic than men, and therefore not suited to saving the day? Is it perhaps morally wrong for women to take an active role, instead of baking cakes or whatever it is they do?

My image of story tellers is that they want to sell stories to consumers. It could be that they have an agenda to define roles as they "should be", but my guess is that if a different depiction sells better, they'll switch to it. So if men appear in hero roles more often, it's because it sells better. I believe the media industry is largely not sexist. (In general, I don't see too many movies about holding traditional values, actually quite the opposite.)


This, of course, assumes that the industry actually knows what they're doing and considers everything objectively and rationally. I mean, just look at this list of silly quotes. Yamauchi's is a particularly good demonstration:

IGN wrote:Years after Square jumped off the Nintendo ship to support PlayStation with a series of smash-hit Final Fantasy role-playing games, Nintendo's retired president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, made some hilarious comments about the booming genre - and about the people drawn to it. "[People who play RPGs are] depressed gamers who like to sit alone in their dark rooms and play slow games," he noted in a 1999 interview. Yamauchi - who incidentally has prided himself on the fact that he has never played a videogame - went on to call RPGs as a whole both "silly and boring." Square Enix's Final Fantasy and DragonQuest RPGs continue to rank amongst the highest-selling games whenever they are released in Japan or America.


Take that, you stupid people who like RPGs! We don't want your money, you hear? It's probably as lonely and depressing as you are!

I'm not saying that gaming industry is necessarily saying "We must publish games that reinforce old-fashioned family values, before the evil feminists corrupt society with their homosexual agenda!" Rather, I think they're stuck in a rut. For a long time, most of the audience was indeed geeky young men. While this is still the case to some extent, video games have become increasingly mainstream, and the industry could certainly bring in other demographics... if it actually put some effort in. But many game devs and execs don't seem to have received the memo; or they want to stick with something they perceive as "safe"; or they don't understand what women actually like and just crank out something with ponies and pink glitter instead; or perhaps, since most people in the industry (and especially the bigwigs) are male, maybe they just make stuff which appeals to them and assume most of their customers will like it, too.

Besides which, even if the industry is just producing what sells, that doesn't mean they are exonerated from all responsibility for being sexist. It just means their customers are also sexist (or at best willing to overlook sexism), assuming the sexist elements exist and help to sell the product.


Aaaaaanyway, in related news, I found this article about the way "romance" is depicted in many games. It talks about the presentation of women as vending machines, in that if you spend enough money and time on them they will dispense the product (ie. sex).

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Outchanter » Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:24 am UTC

EmptySet wrote:Aaaaaanyway, in related news, I found this article about the way "romance" is depicted in many games. It talks about the presentation of women as vending machines, in that if you spend enough money and time on them they will dispense the product (ie. sex).

At what point do video game characters become role models? Sure, according to the Mario game the princess is supposed to sit helplessly waiting to be rescued. But according to the same game, the plumber is meant to bounce endlessly around a system of pipes, defeat enemies by jumping on their heads, and launch himself at floating bricks headfirst to release treasure. It hardly seems realistic enough to take seriously.

Ultimately, any NPC you interact with in a game will behave at best like a poor shadow of a real person, simply because we don't yet have the AI to simulate human level intelligence. (And if we did, it'd probably be immoral to stick them in a game.)

Games are not a substitute for real people.

Back to the "damsel in this dress" topic, I found an article about cross dressing in schools. While it does mention one girl who wasn't allowed to wear a tuxedo for her yearbook photo, there's definitely more controversy for crossdressing guys.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:29 pm UTC

One thing i haven't heard answered when it comes to sexism in video games or stories in general is verisimisitude (sp). If princess peach is living in a sexist society (as we all do) there's a whole weight of cultural expectations on her, plus a clear power difference between her and say bowser. When is it required to break with realism in order to promote equality? I've not used the best example but i hope you will get my point.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:07 pm UTC

@Emptyset

Being frank, while I agree that some representatives of the industry have no idea about videogames the very same way TV executives do not like their job I don't think all those quotes are as bad as IGN says. But yeah one wonders how the director in charge during the SNES era could say that about RPGs is fun =D

On your second article the author just talks fluff without getting nowhere, no offense. In fact he doesn't even talk about videogames! All he says is "In this games you get sex by talking the right way and giving presents" and that "it's wrong because you can date everyone and the game doesn't have a "sorry, you can't date this girl because she is lesbian" message"

Well, I don't know but talking the right way is how you get romantically involved in real life. I don't know how this guy got along with his dates but I think talking is very much the standard for human relationships in any level perhaps he prefers a sledgehammer but I prefer to talk with that person.

Also, what kind of game utility would be having a character that will only date you if you pick a certain sex? Annoy the players who like that character?

Also the author has never played The Sims, you can get opposites to attract by just repeating the same action all the time and not letting them use their free will.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby H2SO4 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:42 pm UTC

Spoiler:
General_Norris wrote:Also, what kind of game utility would be having a character that will only date you if you pick a certain sex? Annoy the players who like that character?

Ha. It'd be sexist of them to do that. :P
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby EmptySet » Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:18 am UTC

General_Norris wrote:@Emptyset

Being frank, while I agree that some representatives of the industry have no idea about videogames the very same way TV executives do not like their job I don't think all those quotes are as bad as IGN says. But yeah one wonders how the director in charge during the SNES era could say that about RPGs is fun =D


Well, of course they've cherry-picked quotes to exaggerate the hilarity. But in some cases... for example, we have the guy who was director of Nintendo saying that RPGs suck, and shortly after his stint in office, Squaresoft - possibly the largest developer of RPGs out there - leaves Nintendo. We have Iwata saying that people don't want online games... and years later, online functionality in Nintendo games still lags far behind their competitors. Coincidence? Or did these people make a critical misjudgment which stifled development of something consumers did, in fact, want and were willing to pay for? I think it's plausible - especially with the "there are no girls on t3h interwebz" mentality which still lingers in some quarters - that one or more execs have decided that "girls don't play games" and it's not worth trying to appeal to women. On the other hand, if you look at the Wii, Nintendo and EA, of all people, have started publishing titles like Wii Fit and EA Sports Active and are currently making a massive profit by selling these titles to (mostly) women.

General Norris wrote:On your second article the author just talks fluff without getting nowhere, no offense. In fact he doesn't even talk about videogames! All he says is "In this games you get sex by talking the right way and giving presents" and that "it's wrong because you can date everyone and the game doesn't have a "sorry, you can't date this girl because she is lesbian" message"

Well, I don't know but talking the right way is how you get romantically involved in real life. I don't know how this guy got along with his dates but I think talking is very much the standard for human relationships in any level perhaps he prefers a sledgehammer but I prefer to talk with that person.


I'm not offended - after all, I didn't write it! I just thought it was an interesting topic for discussion, since we're already on the sexism-in-videogames thing.

Anyway, I think it's more about the system in, for example, Fable, where "romance" consists of repeatedly handing a woman presents, or repeating the same couple of manly poses. It's not even about picking the right thing; it's just pressing a generic "get-the-girl" button which works the same way on everyone. Granted, Fable doesn't take itself too seriously, but I can see how that kind of system could be interpreted as sexist. Contrast with something like Baldur's Gate or Jade Empire, where you at least have to listen to what your prospective boy/girlfriend is saying and choose an appropriate response.

Also, what kind of game utility would be having a character that will only date you if you pick a certain sex? Annoy the players who like that character?


The same utility that is had by having characters who will object and leave the party in disgust if you go around eating kittens, or characters who refuse to date you because they're already happily married thank you very much, or characters who refuse to date you because they're a soldier, not some love-starved twit. It's part of their personality and characterisation. Also, having characters who reflect real-world sexuality might help people from those sexualities identify, you know? Especially the non-hetero people, who often face prejudice, difficulty coming to terms with their sexuality, etc. and might appreciate having characters who went through similar experiences.

bigglesworth wrote:One thing i haven't heard answered when it comes to sexism in video games or stories in general is verisimisitude (sp). If princess peach is living in a sexist society (as we all do) there's a whole weight of cultural expectations on her, plus a clear power difference between her and say bowser. When is it required to break with realism in order to promote equality? I've not used the best example but i hope you will get my point.


Well, I think there's a difference between realism, and just casually accepting sexism. If a women are depicted as being treated as useless because they live in a sexist society, that might be realistic. If women are depicted as actually being useless because they're female, that's a different matter...

(Also I believe the word you are looking for is "verisimilitude".)

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:44 pm UTC

EmptySet wrote: We have Iwata saying that people don't want online games... and years later, online functionality in Nintendo games still lags far behind their competitors.


And even thought their online component of the Wii is laughably bad they are outselling the competition. And don't get me started on friend codes and the totally useless DS wireless feature that made Samus the best character in her game because she was the only one who could hit the other people with so much lag.

Now, have you heard about Bernie Stolar? Bernie "I killed Sega" Stolar? Now, that's comedy. :lol:

General Norris wrote:On your second article the author just talks fluff without getting nowhere, no offense. In fact he doesn't even talk about videogames! All he says is "In this games you get sex by talking the right way and giving presents" and that "it's wrong because you can date everyone and the game doesn't have a "sorry, you can't date this girl because she is lesbian" message"

Well, I don't know but talking the right way is how you get romantically involved in real life. I don't know how this guy got along with his dates but I think talking is very much the standard for human relationships in any level perhaps he prefers a sledgehammer but I prefer to talk with that person.


I'm not offended - after all, I didn't write it! I just thought it was an interesting topic for discussion, since we're already on the sexism-in-videogames thing.

Anyway, I think it's more about the system in, for example, Fable, where "romance" consists of repeatedly handing a woman presents, or repeating the same couple of manly poses. It's not even about picking the right thing; it's just pressing a generic "get-the-girl" button which works the same way on everyone. Granted, Fable doesn't take itself too seriously, but I can see how that kind of system could be interpreted as sexist. Contrast with something like Baldur's Gate or Jade Empire, where you at least have to listen to what your prospective boy/girlfriend is saying and choose an appropriate response.


I think the Fable example is...well...bad writing in pure form. Don't get me wrong but the videogame industry has enough bad writing so as to choke everyone in the planet. Twice. It's also bad game design, and keeping in mind we are talking about Fable being dissapointed about something not being as good as advertised is old news. They got a better system for Fable II but it still sucks.

The system you talk about is better but requires better wrinting, and more time and money. In Fable family is an Easter Egg, not a real feature of the game.

Also, what kind of game utility would be having a character that will only date you if you pick a certain sex? Annoy the players who like that character?


The same utility that is had by having characters who will object and leave the party in disgust if you go around eating kittens, or characters who refuse to date you because they're already happily married thank you very much, or characters who refuse to date you because they're a soldier, not some love-starved twit. It's part of their personality and characterisation. Also, having characters who reflect real-world sexuality might help people from those sexualities identify, you know? Especially the non-hetero people, who often face prejudice, difficulty coming to terms with their sexuality, etc. and might appreciate having characters who went through similar experiences.


You are misunderstanding me. If you can't date someone because they are a soldier then you can't do anything about it and you didn't lose anything because simply there's not an option in the game to do so. In some way you are punishing the player for choosing a sex and forcing them to play the game again if they want to date that character. It may be unrealistic but an "everyone is bi" scenario is funner than not being able to play a part of the game because of a small cosmetic difference you made right after booting up the game. The Sims would be a worse game if they got a "sexuality" option.

In all the games I know where you can date people and they aren't tied to plot you can date anyone, be it a man or a girl. In the end there are not a lot of games were you can date people and that part of the game contains actual gameplay instead of being a gimmick. Persona comes to mind, you can only date girls and you avatar is always male. However changing the sex of the character would require two versions of each video among changes in plot so that has an easy explanation.

Not dating guys is different but it also runs into some problems. In Persona 3 (Sorry, haven't played the other games yet) the characters you would want to date (Junpei and Akihiko) have a personality and a story that would make dating with them troublesome because one is a pretty boy with a lack of confidence in himself, he has lots of fangirls but he can't really find love. Even if he were a girl, there would be problems. The other character is kind of a clown and a loser and dating would ruin the character somewhat. While I think there can be more options, I think story must go first and then Basic Human Decency.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby dosboot » Sat Nov 14, 2009 6:40 am UTC

I'd like to ask a question which should be taken seriously. Is this discussion purely about semantics? In the end, actions matter more than words. The implied consequences of 'damsel in distress' being sexist is not clear to me and assuredly many others. [I'm not saying I believe there is no consequence, I'm saying I'm second guessing myself how to clearly define them.] By consequences I mean how people should act, including both the general public and writers/video game designers. If everyone agrees it is sexist but doesn't act any differently from before then nothing changes.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Rinsaikeru » Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:02 am UTC

Being aware is doing something. If you are aware that the games you play are racist/sexist/homophobic--you might think about that slightly when choosing what games to play. You might not. If you do, game companies might notice through their pockets that...hey games that objectify women took a hit this quarter, maybe we should try producing some other stuff too.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby King Author » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:18 pm UTC

I think it's always important to tease apart the general from the specific. Sociology, for instance, only applies to populations at large, not to individuals. Many people make a mistake, and take sociological data ("children exposed to violent television programs displayed more aggression in play immediately afterward") and apply it in a specific way ("if you let your child watch that violent TV program, he'll become violent when he plays with other children").

That said, I think that in general, the prevalence of the damsel in distress trope is indeed indicative of cultural sexism, however that doesn't mean that any given particular instance is sexist. That is to say, the mere fact that the damsel in distress cliché is so prevalent in Western culture is because of cultural sexism, the cultural belief that women are less capable than men, that men are more suited to resucing and women to being rescued, and the romanticization of such a situation. However no, I wouldn't say that Mario rescuing Peach all the time is sexist (especially since Mario comes out of Japan, and we're talking Western culture).

It goes the other way as well. As a writer, I've often been praised for having strong female characters, however it's not like I specifically set out to make "strong female characters," these characters just came to me as-is and I'm faithfully retelling their tales. I have no intent to combat sexism by having strong female characters, nor do any of my delicate female characters represent an intent of sexism. Fiction is fiction, after all.

I think the larger problem is that certain people tend to look for things like sexism where they don't exist. Case in point, Mylie Cyrus had a series of photos of her and her friend making faces posted on her website recently. In one, Mylie was making her eyes slanted with her fingers. This caused a bit of a stir in pop news as offensive to Asians. That's ridiculous and silly; two kids were making faces, that's it. There was no intent to make fun of anyone, and taking offense is preposterous.

That's the thing -- people are looking for reasons to be offended. It's a lot easier to demand that someone else change for your benefit than to change yourself for any reason.

But back to the original topic, the damsel in distress thing is just one of many logical outcomes of a culture in which women are objectified. "The objectification of women" is a phrase that's lost all meaning due to overuse (and misuse), but if you look into linguistics, it's actually quite true. In linguistics, the agent of a phrase is the actor, the person doing the action, and the object is the thing (or fellow person) on which an action is being performed. Men as agents and women as objects saturates our culture from the very outer limits to the deepest inner core. The way we raise our kids, the way we speak, our political institutions, certainly our media, virtually every aspect of American culture (and to a much lesser extent, Western culture in general) is seeping with agency being afforded to males to the exclusion of females.

The damsel in distress thing can then be viewed as a logical (if sexist) outcome of this deep-seated cultural viewpoint of men as agents and women as objects.

So yes, the damsel in distress trope is hella sexist, but that doesn't necessarily mean that every single instance in fiction or reality when a male rescues a female who was unable of freeing herself is sexist, in intent or effect. Reality is, after all, subjective.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:24 pm UTC

^I know what you are saying. As an amateur artist I find the "strong female characters" trend pretty annoying, I have been told the same and, in the end, they are not talking about your work but of what they want to see in your work. They are looking for female strong characters in the first place which is the wrong way to approach a work of art.

Keep in mind that the plot for every Mario game is the same. Not a similar one, the same! The characters are the same, the status quo is the same and they say exactly the same things. Also consider that if it's a Mario game then Mario is going to be the main character, Luigi the secondary character and Bowser is going to be the Big Bad. Given that Bowser wants Mushroom Kingdom and Peach is their political figure,well, there's no way out of this unless you expand the characters something Nintendo is never going to do.

Also Super Mario Bros. is somewhat of a parody, we are talking about a plumber and mushrooms here.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Rinsaikeru » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:27 pm UTC

There was a few posts earlier in the thread that stated the narrative in and of itself is not sexist--in a vacuum. It becomes sexist with repetition after repetition of the exact same plotline. While produced in a sexist culture to be consumed by the sexist culture--this particular narrative can generally be read as just that, a repetition of a sexist trope in media.

If we ever managed to get to a place in society where sexism ended, I'd agree with you more I think. I do understand what you mean King Author in some regards--but the vast majority of the iterations of this theme ARE sexist or are at the very least uses of shorthand that happens to be sexist. The Damsel in Distress story is about as commonly repeated as the Hero's Journey in the collective media of the west. Now not only is Japan incredibly sexist all on its own--but when we bring Mario Brothers over here and play it we're still reinforcing that same sexist message. (Though in all honesty Princess Peach is a sometimes playable character and has been since the 80s so this isn't necessarily the best example--ie. Mario 2 which isn't Mario really but there you go.)

^I know what you are saying. As an amateur artist I find the "strong female characters" trend pretty annoying, I have been told the same and, in the end, they are not talking about your work but of what they want to see in your work. They are looking for female strong characters in the first place which is the wrong way to approach a work of art.


Yes and for centuries I'm sure lots of women have found the weak women characters trend pretty annoying. Frankly, deal with it.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:37 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:There are tons of reasons why a certain story may have a character made some way. There's sexism, there are author avatars, there are copycats, there are films made with a certain actor in mind, there is commercial preassure, there is policical correctness hiding the truth, there are thousands of reasons and thinking sexism with no proof is unreasonable and quite offensive to the author in question.

A lot of these reasons may be unconscious manifestations - or symptoms, if you will - of a fundamentally sexist society or upbringing. Conscious intent isn't everything.
Last edited by podbaydoor on Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:47 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Rinsaikeru » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:46 pm UTC

Also, we're previously explained several times: the author DOES NOT NEED TO BE SEXIST for the work to maintain sexism. For example, look at the alien civilization explanation earlier in the thread. Whether the author of a work diliberately adds a sexist element, or whether one exists merely because it repeats a motif that occurs thousands of times in western culture--the result is the same: another narrative in which the weak female is rescued by the strong male because that's the way that story always goes isn't it?

I'm not saying artists should feel restrained by what they must produce, but if all they produce is derivative sexist drivel--I don't mind if they stop.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:48 pm UTC

Going on a tangent -
King Author wrote:Case in point, Mylie Cyrus had a series of photos of her and her friend making faces posted on her website recently. In one, Mylie was making her eyes slanted with her fingers. This caused a bit of a stir in pop news as offensive to Asians. That's ridiculous and silly; two kids were making faces, that's it. There was no intent to make fun of anyone, and taking offense is preposterous.

Uh, you're wrong. The slanty-eyes face has been used countless times in playgrounds all across America with intent to humiliate Asian schoolchildren - and it's probably been used for centuries before that by adults too. Try being on the receiving end of one of those when you're six and just starting to understand why the other kids treat you differently even though you were born in America and speak flawless English. The expression is loaded with historical disdain. Miley Cyrus did not post those pictures in a cultural vacuum - and even in the highly unlikely instance she was unaware of the expression's history, it's good that she's been made aware now.

I think that's the overarching theme here - intent is not everything. All you have to do is fit into a pre-existing narrative of sexism/racism/whatever and you're part of it whether you intended to or not.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Jessica » Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:10 pm UTC

Utilizing sexist tropes does nothing except maintain a sexist culture.

Damsel in distress is but one of the many sexist memes we have embedded in our culture. It doesn't take a misogynist to contribute to a culture which keeps women down. Everyone does it every day with the memes we continue to use and propagate. It doesn't make the writer evil, or horrible. It doesn't make the people who view it evil or horrible. It's just another part of a sexist structure.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:26 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:Utilizing sexist tropes does nothing except maintain a sexist culture.


Please, define "sexist trope" to me. Then use an example and prove me why Mario fits that trope.

Because a man saving a woman is not sexist. Men saving women is not sexist. Men saving women because they are defined by their sex and thus women are weak is sexist. There's a huge difference. It may "reinforce sexism" but so does supporting feminism because of radical feminists and other not-so-nice people.

In an equalist society sex is of no importance, yes? Then if I want to work towards an equalist society why should I judge my characters because of their sex? It's bread for today and hunger for tomorrow. You are areguing for positive discrimination.

The only person who has realized the logical gap here is King Author with his good example about sociology and psicology.

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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Griffin » Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:04 pm UTC

Plumber rescues princess is the basic Super Mario plot, but thats not always the case.

In Super Mario 2, Peach is a playable character.
In Super Mario 3, you spend most of your time rescuing the far more incompetent kings than you do rescuing princesses, who is actually in charge of your efforts for most of the game.
In Mario RPG, you rescue her, but she also fights with you.
In general, she manages to be a pretty strong character considering she's pampered overprotected royalty.

In fact, if anything, the mario games are sexist because the bad guys are always just that - guys! And Peach is just so attractive that they all fall in love with her, and thus she is the one that often ends up kidnapped.

What would be a truly interesting Subversion is to have a female villain fall in love with Mario and kidnap him, requiring the Princess to go on a rescue mission.

In fact, I think this is even a more common trope in video games than the damsel in distress. There are a number of games I can think of with strong female leads, but the Big Bad is almost inevitably male. And even if a woman is cast as a big bad, they always have to be beautiful. Wheres the love for evil ugly women kidnapping hot guys?
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby Jessica » Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:11 pm UTC

The game about princess peach exists. In it, peach is over emotional and uses that to kill goombas. I believe there's also a dressup component. Because women are over emotional and only care about dressing up.
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Re: "Damsel in Distress" and Sexism

Postby General_Norris » Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:46 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:The game about princess peach exists. In it, peach is over emotional and uses that to kill goombas. I believe there's also a dressup component. Because women are over emotional and only care about dressing up.


Have you played the game?


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