Hoo boy. I know where this thread might end up so let me try and step out of it and into metadiscussion.
How much substance there is to this topic is directly proportional to A) Is OP a woman and B) is OP offended.
Through making several threads like this, I have learned as a male that it’s not 100% welcome to women if I am eager to be offended for them and fight for their honor in places where they haven’t even established they are offended yet. They also don’t like it if, after the fact, I draw it to their attention and ask them if they’re offended. It’s sort of like throwing a pie in their face. They were having a nice evening, what kind of person brings them something they might hate?
So OP if you are a woman looking for solidarity, the rest of the post isn’t for you. If you aren’t, then it is. Either way, this post is for the rest of everybody in the hopes that I can help some people gain a more healthy relationship with feminism.
Let’s first cover generalisms: that Bill Cosby or Donald Trump exists does not mean all males are rapists. In fact, any argument that states men just naturally objectify anything they see is void. We should treat men like people who are responsible for their own actions, and dole out consequences when those actions are bad. Likewise, not every woman is an emotional wreck who gets the vapors when a monster she has killed multiple times appears, that’s actually just the fake Samus Aran in Metroid: Other M. Nor is every woman a militant feminist who thinks every man should be jailed and forced into slavery. The fact is the bulk of people fall somewhere in between these spectrums.
That said, it should be the job of every man or woman to act with extreme prejudice and disgust when they do meet one of the slimeballs in their midst. Some so-called feminists give women a bad name, just like some so-called woke men give men a bad name, just like some “followers of God” make the faith seem questionable. So yes, “NOT ALL MEN”, but let’s be clear: men who don’t call out men who are bad are enablers of bad men.
Likewise, people who say “don’t let one rotten apple spoil the bunch” are wrong. If you were buying apples and found a rotten one, you’d expect the farmer to throw that shit away, not demand you pay full price for it. Rotten food is infested with mold and bacteria that spreads to the rest of the food and makes it spoil faster. Don’t protect it. Burn it. Make it clear the bunch (your gender-culture-analogue) rejects rotten people.
This is partly because society has forgiven men who are rotten for a long time, and told women to just deal with it. So women have no clue if a random man is rotten or good until they are already in a bad situation with the man. So it’s no surprise they are fearful. A “good man”'s job is to make it clear that men, in general, will kick the ass of those problem men. Good men aren’t winning that battle. While you can reverse that and point out there are problem women that women are equally unlikely to address, the fact still remains that a man can openly brag that he forces models in his beauty contest to have sex with him (rape) and be elected leader of the country. That says a lot of bad things about BOTH men and women. There’s a small, roughly 30% segment of the country that believes, “I think a rapist is qualified to be my leader and I will violently suppress you if you disagree.” Only another 30% showed up to disagree. That says really bad things for the 40% of the country that said, “Look, I don’t want to get involved, maybe rapists are OK, maybe they aren’t, just make sure I have a job. I don’t want to have an opinion about it.”
There’s also not really a concept of “balance” when things are wrong. A rotten apple spoils the bunch. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 apples, 100 apples, or 1,000 apples, you don’t want a rotten apple in your shipment if you can avoid it, and people are willing to pay more money for guarantees they don’t get rotten apples. So it doesn’t matter if GoW art is 50/50 tasteful and offensive, the offensive (if so) art doesn’t magically stop being offensive.
It’s sort of like how there’s no way this sentence comes out as less than an insult, and I’m using this member because I think he’ll appreciate me using him specifically as an insult target: “Bless UKResistance’s heart, he may be an illiterate serial murderer but did you know he’s run an animal rescue that’s saved ten thousand baby ducks?” Like, what is that sentence even trying to do? It turns out bad things overpower good things, or “a rotten apple spoils the bunch.”
So I hope that addresses the most void arguments that will appear:
- “You’re just outraged for no reason.” (Which is true, if OP is a man who didn’t make this post at the explicit request of a woman who felt too intimidated to make it.)
- “Well I’m a man and I’m not offended.” (Good for you, this opinion holds no weight.)
- “Well my friend is a woman and she plays so it’s not offensive.” (She could be afraid to tell you she’s offended, or she could possibly be a rotten woman, your opinion of her status doesn’t matter.)
- “Well I’m a woman and I’m not offended.” (Your opinion is valid and welcome, offense is a subjective thing and your opinion is more valuable than some rando male “ally” opinion, even if there is a possibility you are wrong.)
- “Ugh this again, look, some things have big titty in them and if you don’t like it you can get out.” (This is… somewhat of a valid opinion. A private “big titty let’s enjoy it” club is ok if all people involved consent. Does GoW want to be that kind of game? That’s a Sirrian issue, which means we’ll never get an answer he stands behind because his opinions change with the orientation of his boss, just like a certain Definitely Best Man of a President.)
- “It’s OK to have big titty if some of the women are ugly” is just sort of helping hammer in the nail that it’s offensive. Don’t make that argument.
So I can’t put forth much of a personal opinion on this. I’m a non-binary man, and I find a lot of GoW art tends to appeal to the Conan projection of fantasy art, where every woman is a giant-breasted baby vessel meant to be a prize for a man who slays a demon. But at the same time I got in trouble once for pointing out Queen Titania was attractive and had fairly reasonable combat armor for a mage: mostly that she didn’t have an armored bra and her armor has the kind of surface that doesn’t introduce a weak point at the cleavage.
The trick is deciding and reacting to:
- If GoW is trying to be offensive. (I don’t think there’s a strong case for that.)
- If players are offended. (This is tough, because players who are risk being harassed and intimidated into being quiet.)
- If the community allows assholes to intimidate offended people into silence. (I think there is a high probability.)
- How GoW reacts to the information if players mount a large-scale campaign. (We aren’t here yet.)
Personally I think GoW puts its art style’s depiction of women on the table with no shame. I don’t think it believes it’s offensive. I don’t think the story snippets we have indicate the same kind of objectification Conan fantasies do, instead they tend to use more comedic archetypes for every character. This is a game where women are as likely to be “old hags” or “dumb blondes” or “religious fanatic” as the men are bound to be “drunk bard” or “overconfident jerk” or “lazy slob”. It’s not trying to make a strong social commentary, which means it’s hard to read too much into the imagery or archetypes it uses.
I can’t judge how many players are offended. I feel the people who are offended quit early and silently, because it’s easier to find a game they like to support than it is to change a community. That means I can’t count them so there’s no data. Without data, my opinion as a man about whether women should be offended doesn’t carry much weight. (I also think that since GoW displays its art style front and center, people can figure out right away if they think it’s a “club for men who like fantasy art” or not. I think sensible people understand a “Gentleman’s Club” is never going to be a safe place for women, so there’s a lot of bad faith attached to attacking it directly instead of the systems that enable it.)
I do think this community is allowed to suppress dissenting opinions too forcefully, but our moderators can’t even deal with troll bots within 4 days so that’s a hopeless argument.
So, in the end, I see this thread going nowhere. It’s just going to make a lot of people mad.