Atomic Blonde is the Most Important Feminist Movie of 2017. And Possibly Ever.
(I am absurdly pleased to host this post (with the most) on my blog. These are not my words, but I am 100% behind them. I am also proud to have something worth reading on my blog for a change.)
Hi, I’m Jules. I’m Alan’s wife and I’m writing a guest blog here instead of on my own blog because I just got a job that requires me to interact with folks in DC and now I’m paranoid about the people I work with finding it. It’s not that I think they’d take issue personally with the content, it’s just that the things I have to say about this aren’t the most professional things I’ve ever said. So with that disclaimer, here we go!
So the year is 2017 and apparently, Charlize Theron only makes badass lady movies now. Let me be (probably not) the first to say that I am 100% here for that. Mad Max: Fury Road was hailed as a feminist masterpiece, which it unequivocally was. It was also just a really fabulous action movie and, considering it was a reprisal of an 80’s franchise, that’s pretty impressive. But I’m here to talk about Theron’s most recent empowering bombshell, Atomic Blonde, which is in a whole different class. It’s not set in a post-apocalyptic desert world, it’s set in late eighties Berlin. It’s fiction, sure, but it’s not exactly fantasy. That very fact is groundbreaking in terms of the portrayal of strong women.
I was struck by how much this movie spoke to me. I was expecting a lady version of John Wick, which the film delivered, but I think I underestimated the significance of that, and the significance of some of the nuance of Lorraine Broughton’s character. And maybe you’ll finish this and go, “Man, she was reading a lot into that puff piece of a movie,” and you’re entitled to that opinion. But to me, this movie said some very important things that all women, even this empowered, feminist, 21st century woman, still needed to hear. Things like:
- You can be strong and real and still be attractive.
When Wonder Woman came out, women everywhere rejoiced at Gal Gadot’s strength and beauty. We all bore witnesses to the thigh jiggle that shook the world, and I know many people who grew up in oppressive, misogynist households who were moved by the idea that a woman could be a strong, self-assured heroine. I don’t want to discount how important that is, especially in the superhero world where we’d had literally zero heroine driven movies thus far. That being said, I wasn’t particularly moved. Gal Gadot is a svelte stunner whose fighting powers came from superhuman strength and quite a bit of CGI. I found the narrative of her character inspiring, but her actions less so—they were just too fake. And yes, that’s the superhero genre for you and I do accept that it has its limits when it comes to realism, but I wanted more from a heroine.
Then in walks Lorraine Broughton: tall, bottle blonde, bruised, and broad shouldered. Her physique is enviable, but not unattainable. Like any real life human being, she doesn’t get out of her bath looking like a super model and when she gets hit in the mouth, there’s blood in her teeth. She hides her physical imperfections in black clothing like the rest of us. The choreography that goes into her fight scenes is based on the laws of physics and Charlize Theron’s physical capabilities. She grunts when she throws a wounded man over her shoulder and down a flight of stairs. She makes ugly faces. She’s female badassery incarnate walking around East Berlin in a black double breasted Max Mara coat.
Why this is important: Up to now, our examples of female badassery have existed in a realm of unattainable physical perfection at all times, and I’m not just talking about in the movies. The foremost female entertainers of our era have been harshly criticized for folding belly skin (Gaga) and unflattering angles (Beyonce) while performing truly spectacular feats of musicality and athleticism on the national or world stage. This is an echo of a sentiment modern women are confronted with constantly: “do all the things, be incredible, but the most important thing is to look perfect.” It’s the reason most women know their “skinny angles” and obsess over their hair and makeup even when they’re going to the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, make up is fun and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look nice, but when you’re Black Widow or Lara Croft and your hair is always perfect no matter how many henchmen you’ve dispatched, it makes me feel like a little bit of a failure that my hair can’t even take on humidity.
In that respect, Lorraine Broughton is the modern woman’s practical dream. Of course, she looks awesome when she leaves her hotel. She has a drawer full of Dior makeup and wears some of the finest clothes and shoes money can buy, but after killing four dudes, she has blood in her hair and on her sweater because shit happens when you’re kicking ass. “But Jules,” you say, “Black Widow, Lara Croft, Wonder Woman— these are fantasy characters. It’s hardly fair to expect realism from fantasy.” And you’re right, it’s true. And that is precisely why this is so important— that’s literally all we’ve had so far when it comes to seeing women being badass: fantasy. We haven’t even had James Bond or Jason Bourne or John Wick. The closest we’ve come are love interest/side kick roles like Emily Blunt in Live. Die. Repeat. Look, I know all movies are fantasy in some respects, but Atomic Blonde goes further than any heroine movie before it in saying that you can be a real life badass who grunts like a wildebeest and 10/10 would still bang.
P.S. If you’d like to get a little behind the scenes glimpse of how much of this character’s badassery was based on Theron’s physical abilities, watch this video (and fall in love with her a little).
And I want to go off on a little tangent here about the pain and physical realism of John Wick and Atomic Blonde because YES. THANK YOU. This is so refreshing. For Thor and Captain America, I get it. But if you’re James Bond, you’re not superhuman. When someone throws you out a window, you better not hop back up. You do not have an exoskeleton. This isn’t so much an empowerment thing, just a realism one that used to really bother me about action movies and it’s fixed now if your movie is directed by David Leitch. So thanks, David. Moving on.
- You can be sexy and still be respected.
Atomic Blonde does not slack on the sex appeal by any stretch of the imagination. Again, the wardrobe is to die for if you’re a fan of fashion and all of Lorraine’s choices look like Frank Miller meets John Galliano. And they vary: she wears fishnets and thigh high boots when she’s walking around East Berlin, and she wears a gorgeously tailored tweed pantsuit to see her boss at MI6, showing that like any modern woman, she understands the importance of occasion. That said, she spends most of the film, and most of her time kicking ass, in aforementioned over the knee boots, short skirts, and blouson dresses with body con bottoms. This isn’t in and of itself groundbreaking – women in sexy outfits are a Hollywood mainstay – but it is groundbreaking that her sexiness is just a part of who she is as a character, not the whole damn thing.
A lot of times we see sexy women used as unimportant decoration (Bond girls), villainous femme female vipers (the other kind of Bond girls), or clearly gorgeous, strong female leads stifling their sexiness in order to be taken seriously/still be considered moral (take your pick of any female protagonist pretty much ever). Lorraine Broughton shatters all of those tropes like they’re the tibias of KGB operatives. She absolutely OWNS her sexuality. She has a pocket in her thigh high stocking for a tape recorder, for the love of god. You can tell by the way she strides in her boots that they give her a “zero fucks given” kind of confidence and something tells me that’s exactly the kind of confidence you need to be a deadly super spy. Also, thinking about it, I imagine that she probably also uses the “distraction” of her sex appeal her advantage. It stands to reason that if you’re idiotic enough to be focused on getting a glimpse of her underwear when she’s kicking ass in a skirt, you’re probably gonna find yourself with a footprint on your fucking forehead.
Why it’s important: I would wager that almost every woman over the age of 18 has been told to cover it up at some point, whether it’s an overt reprimand or a friend throwing out a super subtle “wow, you’re really letting the girls out tonight, aren’t you?” I’m sure by now you’ve seen all of the hubbub about school dress codes and their inherent sexism, but in case you missed it, here’s the gist: Women are told from an early age to stifle their sexuality because it’s “distracting” to others. That it’s less important to feel attractive, confident, and wear what you want to wear than it is to blend in and not cause any kind of reaction. I myself was 12 years old the first time an adult (my middle school nurse) told me what I was wearing was inappropriate. More accurately, she told me, “zip up that hoodie, this isn’t Baltimore Street.” (for non-Marylanders, Baltimore Street is where all the hookers and strip clubs are in Downtown Baltimore). Cute, right? Now, I get it, school is not the place to be wearing super sexy things (like a fucking hoodie with a tank top underneath), but let’s be real, this does not end when you leave the classroom—it just starts there. As a woman, you get judged for wearing sexy things anywhere, at any age, and that shit has to stop.
We all clearly like sexy things and feeling sexy. I’m not saying that everyone should start wearing their finest lingerie to work, but maybe we need to stop judging women by their hemlines and necklines. Maybe both men and women need to stop reacting to sexy women as either pervs, prudes, or catty competitors. It’s high time we recognized that a woman’s sexiness is not indicative of anything else: her intelligence, her respectability, her personality, or her openness to interacting with you in any capacity. Women are allowed to be sexy and nothing hammered that home more than Lorraine Broughton’s badass leather and lace aesthetic. She’s sexy and intelligent and in charge, and if you’re only focused on the sexy part, you’re missing the majority of what’s special about her. Watching her made me realize something I probably already knew deep down, but nonetheless needed to hear: we all deserve to walk with the confidence of an ass kicking super spy in thigh high boots. #fuckthehaters
- You can be bisexual. Period.
Despite this being a spy movie and clearly very fictional in that way, the portrayal of Lorraine as a bisexual woman is one of the best, most accurate portrayals of a bisexual woman I’ve seen pretty much anywhere in mainstream movies. There are allusions to her relationship with Gascoin, but her relationship with LaSalle is the one we actually see. The sex scene between them is not gratuitous. While Broughton is taller, older, broader shouldered, and fairly dominant, she’s not masculinized. It’s clear Broughton genuinely cares about LaSalle and at the same time, it’s clear she had strong feelings for Gascoin. Her bisexuality is not a drunken night, it’s not a question mark, it’s a statement.
And it’s a short statement, at that. The biggest thing that I love about the way they portrayed her sexuality is that it’s not really a big thing at all. It’s a short scene in a long movie. LaSalle and Broughton have a relationship, but it’s not a relationship that defines either one of them to a huge extent. It’s a facet of their personalities, but as agents entangled in a very intricate web of international espionage, there’s a lot more interest in other aspects of their lives.
Why it’s important: Bisexual women are underrepresented in film and simultaneously fetishized, which spreads misinformation. If I’m being 100% honest here, in my experience, bisexual women aren’t even well-represented in the LGBT community in real life. In law school, I was lucky enough to be good friends with another bisexual woman and we bemoaned this issue over many a glass of red wine. Lesbian women generally treat bi women as if they are going through a phase and straight men usually respond with “that’s hot” or “how about a threesome.” And while not all straight women think this way, it’s been my experience that many straight women seem to think that bi women are not actually bi, but just saying they are for male attention. So, to recap, if you’re a bisexual woman, you’re fetishized on screen, only nominally accepted in the LBGT community, and perceived as either naive, a slut, or a desperate attention seeker. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? All that because you’re attracted to people’s personalities, not just their parts.
After 10 years of that, you might imagine a self-assured, strong female character being unapologetic and genuine in her sexual relationships with both men and women is particularly gratifying to see on screen. And you’d be right. It fucking is. Her bisexuality isn’t questioned or fetishized. It just is. And, like the way she dresses, it doesn’t define her, it’s just one part of her entire badass personhood, as unflinching as the gun in her hand.
- We don’t need a female James Bond.
Ok, this one is less important from a personal female empowerment standpoint, but still worth taking away. If you’ve ever actually read Ian Fleming, you know that James Bond is VERY 1950’s, and no, not in the charming, rose-colored glasses, rat pack kind of way. More in the chauvinist, racist, actually uses the phrase “the sweet tang of rape” to describe having sex with arguably the only Bond girl he ever felt something for kind of way. He’s the worst. And before you’re all, “But Jules, the character has evolved,” let’s remind ourselves that even Daniel Craig’s Bond is still using beautiful women as plot devices with limited lifespans. It’s as inherent to the character as tuxedos and martinis.
Now, I enjoy James Bond movies for what they are: time capsules. And hey, even in 2017, not every woman is an empowered boss lady. Some women still want to be Bond girls, and some men still want to treat women like Bond girls. While one might disagree with that… vehemently… we should acknowledge that it’s a market that will nevertheless demand to be served.
That being said, I think the people who wanted to see a lady Bond should move on, and when I say that that I mean move on UP. Not because Bond is sacred, not because Gillian Anderson isn’t up to it because she absolutely is, but because we’ve just seen an unquestionable upgrade in Lorraine Broughton. She kicks the crap out of Bond as a character. She’s sexier, arguably better at hand to hand combat, and clearly five steps ahead of everyone else in the espionage game. She’s smoother than smooth— she doesn’t just get the girl, she gets the girl while charming the enemy, gets information from the girl, sleeps with the girl more than once, and genuinely gives a crap when something happens to the girl. She doesn’t slap anyone for being hysterical, she doesn’t mistreat her co-workers, and even though she’s in charge of keeping Spyglass safe, she never once tries to fuck him because maybe, idk, she doesn’t believe in abusing her situational authority. Plus, I don’t remember Bond taking tea with the Queen, though that’s probably for the best because I feel like he’d probably try to fuck her, too.
If you’re not convinced, just go ahead and google “James Bond slaps woman gif.” The sheer volume of choices should convince you that this character is beyond redemption when it comes to misogyny. So even though I think Gillian Anderson deserves her own action series, we can do better than Bond. As of last Friday, we have Lorraine Fucking Broughton as the foundation for lady super spies and the patron saint of female badassery. And even if we only get one movie, I’ll take Blonde over Bond any day.
Posted on August 3, 2017, in Guests, Reviews and tagged Guest Posts, Movies, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.
I’m not sure guys will ever truly understand what it means to have ‘real’ female characters in entertainment. I’m sure on some level, they can, but it’s not something they’ll ever really “‘get.” I’ve never been one for superhero movies either, but when I watched Wonder Woman, I actually teared up a little during the scene that she broke through the window and started kicking a**. Just to watch a woman (superhero, sure, but still…) who was there to fight makes such a difference. I mean, if you compare it to say, Black Widow. Black Widow’s fighting style is basically ABOUT her sexuality. When Wonder Woman fights, it isn’t about her sexuality; she’s there to kill some guys… and if she so happens to be sexy while doing it, well then she is. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I think to most women it does. Maybe it’s subtle, but it makes all the difference.
As a gamer, the characterization of women in games is so much worse (vastly improved over the years and still getting better, but historically god-awful). I honestly don’t know how to explain this to some people–OKAY FINE, white men in particular. It’s like they either get it, or they don’t… and the ones who don’t can’t be taught to see from another perspective. They’ll say incredibly naive things like:
“I don’t see why it matters to have female characters. I’m fine with playing as a blue hedgehog, a pink blob, a fox, a bandicoot, a robot, an earthworm. I’m good to play as anything. Why do you NEED female protagonists?”
To which I reply, “Okay great! If what you play doesn’t matter to you, then let’s make ALL protagonists female characters so that we can ALL be happy!”
“Why not? I thought you said it didn’t matter.”
“That wouldn’t be fair!”
And yet they still don’t get it…
I don’t get it.
Yeah… kind of embarrassed to admit I teared up at the fighting scene on the beach where the women are flipping off the horses and teaming up to take on gun-toting men with bow and arrows; fighting finally done right (superhero-y obviously, but still). I honestly didn’t think I would get emotional at all, was actually expecting a mediocre superhero movie to walk out feeling disappointed and meh, but it just came out of nowhere. It’s almost like a memory that you think had no real effect on your life, but the fact that you still remember it after decades makes you consider that maybe it has played at least a minor role in crafting your personality. But about Wonder Woman, more than just her ability to kick @$$, it was her assertive attitude when addressing things she feels are injustices that made me love her (though, admittedly, could arguably be a play on her ignorance of the “real world’s” societal norms, having grown up with the Amazons and all…); sometimes it’s in your face, like when she’s yelling at all the men scheming in the board room, or subtle things like not even realizing the main guy was trying to block debris from falling on her while walking through the trenches.
I can’t speak to Atomic Blonde since I haven’t seen it yet, but I don’t disagree with any points about ‘superhero flicks,’ even though I apparently was ‘moved’ by it, I guess. Growing up as a tomboy, and still not particularly feminine, having gone through the bs of not really having anything in common with girls my age, nor could ever be “one of the guys,” it was nice to see that middle ground on screen. And I can relate to being told not to dress a certain way when I was sent to the principal’s office in high school for wearing “jean-like pants” that just happened to hug my hips in just the right way. *eyeroll* (Luckily, I think one of the superintendents recognized me as being one of the highest ranking students in the school and let me go… morons). ANYWAY, can’t wait to see the realism of Atomic Blonde in contrast. I always liked Charlize Theron and Milla Jovovich because they could always find a way to strike that perfect balance of being sexy without trying too hard, and when they’re in action, they’re really in action, and don’t put ‘sexy’ before ‘try-hard.’ Scarlett Johansson always struck me as one of the women who put ‘sexy’ before ‘try-hard,’ though that may have more to do with a director’s direction than her acting… Idk.
Anyway, it’s late, and I’m rambling. Sorry. Night! lol
First off, your apology is not accepted. You have nothing to be sorry for, so it is rejected out of hand. Sorry.
Like with my comment to Jennifer, I recognize that I won’t truly get it until I’ve experienced it to the same level, but I’m so happy for you both, my wife, and the billions of women out there who have gone a very long time without the reinforcement that you can do or be anything. I think of Wonder Woman as one of the most important movies to ever be released, not just for the portrayal of a powerful female protagonist, one whose power and strength comes in exactly the same form as traditionally male power and strength, and not limited to emotional or mental strength but instead the physical ability to simply wreck shit. I consider it additionally important for the simple fact that a female director was finally given the money and ability to make a blockbuster film starring a woman, and it wasn’t only really good film (it wasn’t perfect, and the great news is THAT’S PERFECTLY OKAY. Every fucking film has flaws) but it also made a fuckload of money, the one thing that the shitheels who control the media in this nation (and world, really) care about. I think the success of Wonder Woman will finally mean that women can direct any goddamn movie they want, starring whoever they want about whatever they want. It’s about fucking time.
And it was also important that, like you said, Wonder Woman confronted the ridiculous notions of what a “woman’s place” is. When she was yelling at that room full of men, it made me think of that picture of Trump and his room full of old white men discussing women’s health issues. I wish there had been a woman to kick in the door to that circle jerk and shake each and every one of them until their teeth fell out.
I think, I hope, that we’ve reached a bit of a tipping point in our society. As much as I despise it, I think Trump’s election will accelerate it. There is a nation of women, and men, who are fucking sick of this shit. The old white man patriarch thing is finally being played out, and I hope that we’re seeing the last desperate surge of their feeble attempts to keep the whole pie for themselves.
And it’s about time. Male or female, black, white, Asian, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim – every one of us wants and strives for the same things. Love, respect, acceptance. Power. Wealth. All the same good and sometimes bad things. There isn’t a story in the world that needs to be told from a male perspective, or female perspective, or any particular point of view, because the things at the heart of every story are universal. Striving to grow, or rising up to face an obstacle, or fighting through the shit the world throws at you – at its heart, every story is about something that is universal. It’s about time we let the faces change. Diversity will be the savior of mankind if we let it, because maybe that can lead us to the point where we look at each other and see people, just like me, with all the same drives and hopes and desires that I carry with me.
Wow. You guys really made me get all soapboxy.
Anyway, Stephanie, thanks for commenting. Like I said to your sister, if you ever feel like writing anything and don’t feel like starting your own blog, I’d love to get a chance to put it here. You’ve also got a lot of talent for it.
Thank you so much for your very thoughtful and insightful comment. I read it to my wife last night as we were going to bed and it sparked off a long discussion about representation of women and people of color in media, as well as the role money and wealth (and control thereof) plays in the uplift of white-men-centric roles and power. I was both fired up over the issue and depressed at the glacial pace of change. At least the depression helped me fall asleep.
I think you are 100% correct in your thought that white men will never really get what it means to have real female characters in entertainment. I think it’s hard to understand anything on a deep gut level if you’ve never really experienced it yourself, myself included. My father died when I was young and I was raised by my mother. I didn’t have any real father figures around – my stepfather was worthless, and my brothers, although older than me, were too young – so instead I looked for them in media. I had a million to choose from, all of whom spoke to a part of what and who I wanted to be. I had Han Solo and Indiana Jones and Spider-Man and Batman and Bogey and James Bond and the Dukes of Hazzard and the A-Team and Conan and Rocky and hell, even Richard Dawson (even now, when I’m wearing a suit and I have a glass of Scotch or whiskey in my hand, I feel like Richard Dawson. What a weird goddamn role model). I had every choice available to me, simply because I was a white guy.
It never occurred to me until much later that no one else had that luxury, whether it was due to gender, or race, or sexual orientation. I mean, sure, it’s possible to look at someone as a role model even if they don’t look like you (Lando Calrissian and Wonder Woman [Lynda Carter edition] from my own experience), but it isn’t really the same. It’s as if the qualities possessed by those role models who don’t reflect you become associated with something you can’t have because you aren’t their sex or race, if that makes any sense. I always just assumed that other races and genders had other vast pools of books and movies and shows to draw from, just like I did, and I just didn’t see them because I wasn’t looking for them.
All that means to say that I get that I can’t really get it, and I think it’s important to recognize that. I hope I can help change that in whatever way I can. I’m happy that I keep learning new perspectives and insights, like what you said about Black Widow and her fighting style. It’s obvious now that you point it out, though. I mean, her signature move is to wrap her legs around a man’s face. It’s pretty fucking clear, but I never saw it. Wonder Woman (current edition) and Lorraine Broughton fight like anyone would fight – to beat the will to resist out of their opponent. It really does make a big difference.
The whole video game thing – ugh. The first video game I ever played as a female protagonist was Everquest. I made a female character because I saw female characters getting special treatment (as I saw it at the time) – free stuff, assistance, all that stuff. I’d always liked role-playing, so I talked and played her as best and realistically as I was able. I found myself really enjoying developing her as a character, giving her a backstory, all the things I could do to try to understand what it would be like to be female. I started writing stories about her and her adventures. It was the first time I wrote about anyone who was not a white male. And no, those stories will never see the light of day. Anyway, as time went on, I noticed how much harassment I had to deal with in-game. I’d meet other people in the game and interact with them. Some became friends. Some became straight-up fucking stalkers. I’d get messages the second I logged in, creepy and unwanted advances. I was always nice to everyone, and I ended up getting in-character marriage proposals because of it. None of that shit happened when I was playing a male. It was like getting a glimmer of a shadow of an idea of what it must be like to deal with that all day, every day. Obviously, it’s not the same, but it was part of the puzzle of learning that I will never know what it’s truly like.
The only game I’ve ever played with a female protagonist that I can remember, where I couldn’t choose a gender, was the Lara Croft reboot game from a few years ago. I enjoyed it a lot, for the same reasons I enjoy any game. It was fun, was visually impressive, and had a good story. It didn’t matter that my avatar was female. It’s ridiculous that more games don’t do it. “But most gamers are white men!” Well, keep making games with female protagonists, and playing video games won’t be perceived as a boy’s club.
Actually, now that I think about it, Portal 2 was the first game I played with a female protagonist. It certainly didn’t make a damn bit of difference there.
Anyway, thanks again for the comment. Your words – and your sister’s – have been making me think a lot about these issues. As you said, it’s getting better – I mean, women just got allowed societally to fucking wear PANTS, what, 70 years ago? 60? – but there is still so much farther to go.
And hey – if you ever feel like writing something and don’t feel like starting your own blog (you should but that’s neither here nor there), let me know if you’d like me to post it here. You’re a really good writer and it’s great to get your perspective on things. I really appreciate the time you take to converse here. You and your sister are two of the greatest people I’ve never met.
Aw! I don’t know how to respond to this… I (platonically) love you too; and we have yet to officially meet. 😉 lol
You’re the only guy I know who’s admitted to playing a girl in an online game AND have negative experiences. Almost all the others only talk about the doting and free handouts as if they’re positive (because that’s what I like in a game: no hard work and receiving the best gear before getting started). Not that I blame the guys for not noticing the stalking and harassing b/c it’s easy to ignore when you 1) know it doesn’t apply, and 2) can turn it off by just being yourself again. It’s like how people assume I know how to get to their house when the only time I’ve ever been is to follow them there… no, when I’m following, my thoughts are, ‘don’t let them out of your sight,’ not ‘turn right, then left, then straight twice, then a left…’ No, I don’t remember the directions!
And sure, maybe 2-3 times is whatever, it’s the internet, harassment happens, but after the 15th ‘tits or gtfo’… it’s like being forced to laugh at the same joke over and over, or being part of the Trump administration in which the job description requires complimenting the POTUS. It’s not baby “snowflake” feelings and if I can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen crap… it just gets old.
I think my experience might have been a little different because I was playing not just a female character, but I was playing (as best I could) a female player playing a female character. I have no doubt I could’ve stopped the harassment at any point simply by telling the other players I was a guy, but for whatever reason I didn’t want to. So you’re right; I could have just turned it off, which I’m sure made the effect even less for me. But it did interfere with me just playing the game. I couldn’t just go in and do my thing without people actively trying to interfere or engage me simply because they believed I was a woman. It was frustrating, and I found myself modulating and guarding how I interacted with people I didn’t know. I was nice, but made sure not to be TOO nice, because I didn’t want to elicit a reaction or get attention that I didn’t want. One guy who proposed – he was in the same roleplaying guild and was fine, but I never actually fought alongside or hung out with him, but I was really nice to him, like I would’ve been if I was playing a male character – and I turned down logged off and quit playing his character entirely. It’s one of the most fucked up things I’ve seen in video games. Like you said, it got really old really fast.
So I can’t even imagine what it’s like when you can’t just turn it off. I read about the harassment of female players in games like Overwatch and other games where voice chat is incredibly helpful and it’s disgusting and heartbreaking and ridiculous all at once. I mean, I only use voice chat if I’m playing with friends of mine, and barely even then, but I also don’t play a lot of online multiplayer stuff. I don’t do it because those people are awful in every way, and I don’t even have to deal with the level of vitriol and condescension and patronization that any female player has to suffer.
Christ. Guys really suck. On behalf of them I apologize. Literally everyone deserves better.
I’mma take a page out of your book and outright reject your apology, good sir. I don’t accept apologies from good guys on behalf of bad guys in the same way I wouldn’t let an innocent serve time for a murderer—not that the two are comparable!!
Anyway, point is, I don’t blame men for being “at fault” for poor female representation than I consider it an accident of history (ie. I don’t lay blame on the kids when it was the parents’ responsibility). It’s like slavery. Can we blame “white people” for the majority of the problems African Americans face in this country today? In my opinion? I absolutely feel that’s a valid opinion to hold. But what’s done has been done… we don’t need to — and shouldn’t — feel personally guilty for the things our ancestors did, but we DO need to acknowledge the consequences of it and work to repair the damage done, whatever the solution(s) might be.
The good news is that I don’t believe congruent life experiences or “true understanding” are required for empathy. If could have just even one similar experience and extrapolate that feeling over an extended period of time or multiply it in your head where applicable, I feel like that should be good enough in getting a useful amount of ‘understanding’ from the other side. Like trying to relate to someone suffering from depression? I still have a LOT of trouble with that one, honestly. The idea of feeling completely and totally helpless is still unfathomable to me, and I’ll consider myself lucky if I’m never able to grasp the concept. Anyway… getting off topic.
Bottom line: there’s a fine line between sympathizing with someone and pitying them. The minorities and historically oppressed need allies, not “heroes” (see: white knights). Still, women on the whole (in this country anyway… :-S ) could be a LOT worse off. If all I have to experience in my life is a little bit of special treatment and sexist comments, I’ll consider myself very lucky.
Oh, and for the record, you should definitely publish one of the stories of your Everquest character!! 😀 I’ve got my D&D Cleric’s bio up on Facebook, put it there if you’re embarassed. lol! And to think we became friends because my sister and I were desperately searching the web for some honest-to-God criticism of TWD. Worth it.
God save us all from the white knights, especially the Internet Crusaders. I have a lot of friends who fall into that category. Yeesh.
I never should have brought up those stories, haha. I’ll have to take a look at them. I’m sure they’re more embarrassing than I even remember. However, I totally am going to look up your cleric’s bio.
And hating on the Walking Dead brings good people together. I always knew that would be the case!
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