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Women as Sex Objects

Journal Entry: Thu Jun 27, 2013, 10:12 AM


Warning: Imma 'bout to rant.

First off I'd like to point out that I'm not a raving feminist. I acknowledge that women are not equal in western society (despite corporate efforts that seem to be more about statements and false enthusiasm on the subject rather than actually taking women seriously) and I don't think we will be equal for a long time, if ever. Just how it is. Unfortunate (from the perspective of a woman), but just how it is.

ANYWAY. Here's my rant. I'm really tired of a female character being undermined by her being half nude. Really, really tired of it. And I'm not talking about artistic nudity, I'm talking about ass-cheek flashing skirts, bikini tops and little else (I'm looking at you, Japan).

I love a strong female lead, but they're so rare. Writers find it so hard to create a complex female character; they're either so brave and outspoken that they become butch and unattractive by design, or they're a sex object. A hopeless damsel in distress or someone who can hold their own until a man comes along and is inevitably better than her at everything bar looking good in a tiny dress.

Let's take Kaine as an example, from videogame Nier. She's totally badass, until she turns around, and then she's just all ass: static.giantbomb.com/uploads/o…

She transforms from being an actual person with actual feelings, to a sex object in the time it takes for her to turn around. Personally, I find it insulting. Whether we realise it or not, this image is brainwashing both women and men into thinking that this is all we're worth. We don't have feelings or brains, we're all tits and ass.

I understand that comic book and videogame companies are targeting their prime audience: men. And men want something to look at. It's understandable, I'm not criticising. But I feel it's sending the wrong message.

Of course there's nothing wrong with having a sexual and powerful character, but I'd love to see more female designs that aren't defined by their sexuality. I'd like a character to be respected for their battle prowess and/or personality, and for their attractiveness to be a bonus (I feel the Final Fantasy girls almost hit that mark).

I write this because of a recent picture that made front page. I shan't link it. But it basically depicted an Amazonia tribe amidst 'war'. It would've been cool except that all the women's 'armour' consisted of thongs, skimpy straps and bikini tops with the occasional helm and javelin thrown in for health and safety. I feel like the idea of this strong society of warrior women was completely undermined by the artist depicting them as sex objects. It's such a shame… and worse still, it's ACCEPTED.

It's difficult to find any fictional character that's worthy of being a role model, at least in terms of dress. Perhaps because a strong woman with clothes on is either too boring for a man, or makes them feel uncomfortable?

I'd like to see more characters like Anya, from Gears of War.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Heather from Silent Hill 3
Faith Connor's from Mirror's Edge
Perhaps even Black Widow, from the Avengers, to a certain extent.

Now, I'm not bashing men. I'm not saying that men are purely driven by sexual desire and have no interest in women beyond physical attraction. That's not it. I totally get that men want something to look at. (And we certainly don't help ourselves with Playboy etc.) I'm blaming the media and uncreative, lazy writing and that the bottom line is, well, sex sells.

I suppose I can't get mad at these primarily male writers/designers/illustrators, but it would be nice to be shown some semblance of respect and acknowledgement to the fact that we are more than just sex objects and not EVERY design has be all tits and ass. Just saiyan.

I'm sure an onslaught of people will disagree with me, but I'd be interested to hear your opinion, especially if you're a man! Please do share :)



Cursed by Hannah-AlexanderReborn by Hannah-AlexanderDetermination by Hannah-Alexander
  • Mood: Irritated
  • Listening to: Marina and the Diamonds
  • Reading: ShadowHeart, by Tad Williams
  • Watching: Mob Wives
  • Playing: Ni No Kuni
Add a Comment:
 
:iconsilken:
silken Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015  Professional General Artist
It is an issue...but I'm just as guilty of it. So are you with your super girl series. They're half naked. It's like we're programed to draw women in skimpy cloths. Sometimes I wonder if it's a 'living vicariously through 'insert character name'. Seeing as we sure as heck ain't gonna be dressing that way.
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:iconrubina1970:
Rubina1970 Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
First, let me tell you how much I admire you and agree with what you stated here (after 2 years, sorry, but I'm quite new here). You are absolutely right.
But now, I have a problem: I wanted to try some sexy drawing, sooner or later. I like sexy images when ... well, when I like them! I mean, I have my own taste, and I trust it because I think it's really good taste. I use to write fanfictions in Italian, and often I write sexy scenes that are so erotic I haven't try to submit them here because I'm afraid they may be too explicit for dA (in case you don't know it, they are very strict about writings, no strict at all about images, only God knows why). They are in Italian, and I post them on an Italian site, where my readers (mostly females) use to tell me "read it all with a smile on my face", "so hot but no vulgarity at all": which means I can write these things with a total respect for my own sex (and for males, btw). Is it possible to draw a sexy image of a girl (let's say, the character of an anime) without falling into this outrageus stream we can see everywhere? Any answer would be appreciated.
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:iconidontknowwhoyouknow:
Idontknowwhoyouknow Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, this journal describes my frustration, my good friend. 
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:icon0umizu0:
0Umizu0 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Student Interface Designer
I think Terry Pratchet says something about that in one of his books when he is describing a female fantasy hero, something like "no woman who works with her sword would dress like a linen magazine model", I read it in spanish so I'm not sure of the right translation. That phrase made my day X3
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:iconnightwing6497:
nightwing6497 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
amen.
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:icondreamcardmania:
Dreamcardmania Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
hahaha! I'll make one for you! :)
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:iconmandaren:
mandaren Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I am doing some catching up on my messages and I completely agree with you.  Most outfits that most lead female characters wear are pretty much soft porn and are completely impractical.  At best, they would distract the enemy for a while, but offer very little for protection against the threats of arrows, sharp pointy objects, or any other damage that may befall them in battle?  A fire slinging mage?  Forget about it. 

One female warrior that I love is Wonder Woman.  But when they talk about her armor, I think to myself 'What armor? She wears bracers, a one piece suit, form fitting outfit, boots, and I think what could be called a crown.'  Granted her 'armor' is imbued with enchantments, but it still looks like a glorified swimming suit to me.  Hawk Girl, on the other hand, did wear armor, and when she wasn't wearing armor, would fight in regular street clothes and aside from her wings, looked like a normal human.
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:iconkeyshe54:
Keyshe54 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2013   Traditional Artist
I'm catching up of old journals I missed on and your stands out...Sorry for jumping in on this so late :(
Every now and then a few days I get a kinda depressive mood that I just can't shake-- where every where I look there is sexualization and woman 'images' used as sex objects and... I just can't get away from it. It's on TV, book covers, art  ect...  everywhere. I love scifi and fantasy themes stories and movies... but there is little room for the idea of a women to be much more then a sex object, even if there have a strong character they are presented and well more then not held back as a sex object. It's hard to find a game or a comicbook where the women.. aren't tits and ass in some way...

 It's a relief to hear someone speak out on it... Thank you for this journal and you thought on this. It's really is too bad how harsh the feminist movement is taken and well 'acts' becouse this here is somthing they target and talk about a lot, and want to change and improve. Some times too extreme but yeah it's an issue. I like sexy art.. and understand male interests.. and I know sex sells but I truly believe and feel I have seen it as harmful to men and women by doing this 'all' the time-- it make less of the media/show ect, degrades it and harms the opinion of sex and females and men over all. I grew up for a time feeling very affected by these images and seen young men also be so-- I thought the sexed up purpose for females and images was... what women were only good for and what we were. I've seen young men growing up very disconnected with any idea of what/who women are, ideals of beauty and well, even sex.
 How can 'sex' do anyone any good by having thrown in your face all the time?! Let alone making one gender be so sexualized that being a women makes you a sex object and are judged on worth by how much you fit into that?
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:iconjpnn80:
jpnn80 Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013
Since you're looking at Japan in your understandable critic, fortunately enough you can also find in their entertainment media a lot female characters shown as leaders and fully clothed, for instance in Ghibli movies with Nausicaa of the valley of the wind or Momonoke hime, or also in the big worldwide success that is the recent anime series Attack on Titans.
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:iconangel-regiment:
Angel-Regiment Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That's why I really sat here and looked at a lot of your art when I saw the first piece. I mean, a huge chunk of art these days is women with huge boobs hanging out or something and as a girl I'm a little sick of it. Like literally, my deviant ID is me in a /suit/. I think women can be sexy and empowering but most people care so much about the sexy part that they forget about the rest.

I dated a guy last year who told me he only liked sexy female characters. He would gawk at the hot Bayonetta cosplayers and played Lollipop Chainsaw and he always talked about how sexy they were. I just thought, God, is that what we've come to? :/ Someone needs to make a small-breasted main female character in a great game. See how people like that.

And about the picture you saw on the homepage, I agree at how aggrivating that is; that's why I love Skyrim. All the aromor isn't typical girl armor like loincloths and metal bras. It's full body armor and at some points you can't even tell the gender by looking at them in the armor.

I think it's sending the wrong image to children, honestly. How many kids movies do you see these days with a romancey scene and how many in them show a head-over-heels girl or something? I don't know. That's not the same argument. I'm just tired of the image women have in society.
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:iconmandaren:
mandaren Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
We need a like button for deviantArt.  You are completely spot on and I love your Skyrim Reference (Just don't count the Saviours Hide, the Captain's armor that you get from Ulfric or the Forsworn armor) .  Though I hate the mods that the computer gamers use to sex up their female characters and post the results here. A lot of the Skyrim clubs have become overrun with these images.  Honestly, I feel as though most of these images are posted just to get views.
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:iconangel-regiment:
Angel-Regiment Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Exactly. The only mod of such I like is Nocturnal's Cloak, but that's how she looks and it isn't some of the slutty things some people post. But there's no one to discuss this with, male or female, except a few choice figures like you and myself, because most people either don't get it or don't care or like it too much. Pisses me off to no extent. Our generation is growing up learning that lots of boob and early sex is okay because of the way women are portrayed in the media. Kids shows on some channels are almost exclusively about teenagers, drama, relationships, stuff like that. It's sickening. I grew up with shows like Ned's Declassified. I miss innocent shows like that. And games. I think it is the Black 2 pokemon game where the female character is wearing cutoff jean shorts with the pockets hanging out? My sister always taught me that if the pockets hang out, that's way too short, and it usually is. It's corrupting our society and it makes me so angry. Not to mention things like porn being so easily accessable... and how dress codes are becoming less and less strict. I'm still in high school. When I was in 6th grade, I remember: knee-length skirts or capris, and sleeves had to be a dollar bill width, shirts could not pass the collar bone. Now people wear practically a long shirt and that's it to school. I saw it the other day and it made me so mad. Who are you trying to impress? Your math teacher? Because this kind of stuff shouldn't matter in school. I don't care how I look during school because I'm not there to show off, I'm there to learn for God's sake. And call me a nerd all you want (well, I am in Latin III, that is pretty nerdy) but I personally feel like if everyone thought that way the schools would be a lot less overrun by horny boys and sluts. I just wish sluts would realize how comfortable jeans and a tshirt was. I can't even wear skinny jeans anymore, they're so uncomfortable, and usually nice clothes aren't fit for a full day of school. Maybe to a date or the mall... I dunno. I just get so rant-y when this kinda stuff comes up.
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:iconmandaren:
mandaren Featured By Owner May 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Latin III?  Now that is my kind of Awesome!

I hear you.  I remember reading a letter to the 'Dear Abby' column from a 13 year old girl who pretty much was saying that she was worried that none of the guys in her school could keep up or meet her sex drive!  The fuck?!  You are thirteen fucking years old!  If you are already of thinking like that by that age, I don't want to know.... 

One of the main problems with society is how we indoctrinate kids from a young age that this drama is normal and your adult will be easy- from a steady high paying job that you are rarely at to the kegger and getting laid.  That life after high school isn't hard and that you have no responsibilities whatsoever.  If they actually showed how much adult life is like for the normal and not so rich and well off, they would reconsider, buckle down and study so that they could succeed.

Life is based anymore off of the rare, fairy tale like qualities that make up most television and kid shows and movies these days.  Every girl wants to be a princess, but they don;t want to work for it.  Guys want to couple with someone who takes care of them and works hard so they don't have to.  Or they think that the thug life is the way to go.  I don't know which is worse.

THe other problem is that we coddle our kids too much.  Seriously, in the last five weeks of public school in my city, the kids have had only one full week of school and there are people out there who think this is a great thing because those full weeks are so hard on the kids.  I looked at this one lady and asked her what kids were doing from 1939-1945.  She looked at me confused.  I told her that back then, most kids ten and over were helping with the war movement- working in factories and helping their mother with their younger brothers and sisters.  And before that kids would start working to help their parents support the family as young as the age of eight.  It wasn't until after WWII that we felt children should be entitled to play and have rights.  That innocence must be preserved at any cost.  And ever since then, things have taken a turn south.

Maybe if we started having kids watch Game of Thrones are telling them how the real Fairy Tales ended, they would change their outlook on life and grow up maturely and correctly.  Maybe if parents would take responsibility for their actions and if punishing kids wasn't against the law, things would be so much better.
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:iconhythrain:
hythrain Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013   Writer
As a male writer myself, trying to write strong female characters has, as you've said, proven to be difficult. I've always found it easier to write males, due to the fact that I am may and, in a lot of ways, males seem easier to write. Whenever I write females, there's suddenly a lot of things I have to factor in that don't even get touched on when writing a male, the least of which (And yet it's still incredibly important) is how female characters talk. I've had a friend tell me that the way girls talk differs from the way guys talk, and trying to learn how to approach that has proven difficult.

I've made extensive efforts in my writing to NOT let my female characters be sexual in nature, unless there's a reason for it (I can think of three characters I have in two different stories who are sexual, two in their design and two in how they behave). I've tried very hard to try and adapt what I know about writing guys to make it into writing girls. It's not the easiest thing, either, because unlike with a guy, I'm going to get a lot more criticism for making a small mistake.

And like you said, making a female with no weaknesses at all also isn't fun. With a guy, I can let weaknesses come naturally to the writing (and they always do). With a girl, I have to intentionally define those weaknesses ahead of time and then be sure to include them in my writing. It's a bit frustrating how much one has to do in writing to get a strong, appropriate female character compared to a male character. This is partially from the severe lack of female characters that aren't damsels in distress or eye candy, and partially from how our society acts: we have it in our minds that writing a strong female character can only be done in certain ways which, in turn, creates a lot of limitations and makes it a LOT harder to write more strong female characters.
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, the balance is so hard to achieve. Writing the opposite sex is hard enough anyway! I find i write my male characters a little effeminate. It's difficult also because some girls can of course be defined by their sexuality - girls know how to flaunt it! - but it's hard to translate that into something that doesn't come across as flat. Mannerisms between men and women differ massively too, which, as you say, reflects in the way we speak. It's certainly no easy task to create believable characters - both male and female!
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:iconhythrain:
hythrain Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013   Writer
Thing is, much like how there ARE girls who can be butch, there are guys who can be effeminate. It's not a bad thing to write this way, providing you're not doing it with every single one.

I think what bothers me about the lack of strong female characters isn't the lack of them itself, but rather the way we, as a society, look at things due to the lack. There are lots of different ways to write a good male character, but there's a severe limitation when it comes to females I think, even for female writers. As a male or female writer, if a female character has certain things written, it's automatically not considered a strong character. This leads to a lot of fear for writing female characters, unless it's an environment where most of the characters are female (MLP: FIM comes to mind. Some characters are weaker than others, but because it focuses on female characters you're more likely to excuse the weaker characters and, over time, appreciate them and find they're stronger than you initially thought).

The odd thing, for me, is that I don't notice a difference in how girls talk with girls in comparison to how they talk with me. I'm around ladies who aren't family every Friday. I see how they talk with each other, I see how they talk with me. It's the exact same. Are the girls I'm talking with very masculine (Doubtful, some of them are VERY girly), or am I really missing something?

Actually, lemme link something.

[link]

This summarizes the problem. Here's a scene I wrote between three female characters. I wrote and rewrote the dialogue over and over to make each line feel like it spoke to how the character behaved. However, I still had a female friend say "This dialogue is what a guy thinks girls talk like" simply because of how a single character spoke (which is actually a part of her character. You'll know what I mean if you read it), but when I asked for clarification on what exactly was the problem and how I could fix it, I couldn't get an answer. It's like being told "You're wrong, but I don't know how you're wrong."

This aspect also causes a lot of fear in male writers for dealing with female characters, and sadly in mass media (video games, movies, etc) you'll find more male writers than females. As a result, female characters get shunted to one side. I think if this didn't exist as a problem, if writers could be more experimenting with female characters, it could eventually develop how to write female characters. I feel as though I've gotten a lot better simply because I've been doing a LOT of work with female-led stories as a means of helping me understand. The more I do it and get feedback, the better I get. Your mass media writers can't do this, because if they slip up on a female character then whatever movie, game, etc. that they wrote suddenly becomes hated and a flop. Unless, of course, the female was done as a sex object.

There is one other level to it, I think, when it comes to mass media: who will be interested? In comics, video games, and movies, you always have something like 75-80% male characters to 20-25% female even though in reality it's 50/50. Why? Because both males and females will enjoy stories about male characters, even if they don't like how female characters are portrayed. However, the same can't be said for stories about female characters. A lot of males don't WANT to see stories about female characters, and as a result female characters also have another thing standing against them: viewership.

Also, forgot to bring it up before, but you had brought up Japan... Japan is a VERY sexist country. Like, immensely so. It's heavily ingrained into their society, so much so that they don't even know it. You see it done in Japanese media, both in what's made for guys and for girls (In stuff written for guys, the male characters are always stronger and feel like they need to protect female characters. That anime trope of a taller guy hugging a female is what defines this. That sort of scene is ALWAYS done when the guy is trying to protect the girl he likes. On the flipside, in stuff written for girls, the girl is suppose to be attracted to some guy and everything about her life is about that guy. Yes, you get exceptions from this, but that's just it. They're exceptions).

But I think what defines it the most, for me, is how dating in Japan goes. I don't know if this is the same in the UK, I'd imagine it is based on what I've seen in British media that's come overseas, but in Canada and the US, it's the guy who asks the girl out. The guy has to put himself out there, risk being embarrassed, to get anything going. All the girl has to do is say yes or no, and from there it depends on how things play out. Then in the relationship, the man has to jump the hoops while the girl just costs along. Of course, this alludes to a male-dominating attitude that exists here. The man puts himself out there, but he's also the one who "does everything." But this isn't the same in Japan. In Japan, it's the GIRL who asks the guy out. The girl has to put herself out there and risk embarrassment and all the guy has to do is say yes or no. In a lot of cases, the guy doesn't have to do much at all while it's the girl who runs the hoops. You'd think this would mean it's be female dominated, but no. She does all the work, but at the end of the day he's still top dog. He's the breadmaker while she's still the housewife.

Hell, I've seen this distortion of it apply when it comes to BREAKING UP! Since it's the guy who puts himself out there, usually it's the girl who will break up with the guy. Maybe she didn't like things she didn't know before they got together, maybe she realized she didn't like him after all. This isn't to say guys don't break up with girls, because it happens. In Japan, as far as I've seen, it's the guys who usually break up. I even have a Japanese friend, female of course, who has had three or four boyfriends. She's never once broken up with them, even when she wanted to. When she wanted to, she'd, quite literally, go to her boyfriend and say "I want you to break up with me." In other words, she wouldn't end it on her own, she wanted her boyfriend to do so.

This is how sexist Japan is. It's a society where, in relationships, the girl does everything but the guy is still considered top dog, and it's thought to be normal there.
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I didn't want to target Japan too much in my journal, but I am unfortunately aware of badly sexist Japan is. What upsets me most is the lack of promotion and career opportunities women get over there. They can be receptionists, escorts, bar workers, waitresses and shop floor workers, but you'll never see a woman working in an office or in anything like a management position. The men will always get the jobs and the promotions and the higher pay. It's awful. China is no different.

As a girl, I would never want my boyfriend jumping through hoops for me! It's only really douchey girls who do that. I dont' expect to have anything paid for me, I don't wait for him to call me first etc. etc. I think Britain is slowly breaking away from that mentality. However, it is still a long dated tradition that the male asks out the female. Similar to the male proposing. To have a female propose to a male is demasculating (according to my friends! I also don't think that's a word but you know what I mean haha).

I think GRRM (who has churned out, in my humble opinion, some of the best female characters ever to grace page and screen) summed up my feelings towards writing female leads during an interview:

Interviewer: There's one thing that's interesting about your books. I noticed that you write women really well and really different. Where does that come from?
George R.R. Martin: You know, I've always considered women to be people.

And in another interview:
So how does he get inside the head of, say, his teenage characters? 'Yes, you're right I've never been an eight year old girl,' he says, 'but I've also never been an exiled princess, or a dwarf or bastard. What I have been is human. I just write human characters.'

I believe that's the key to writing believable characters. Strip away their sex when creating them then add it later and embellish it as necessary (eg speech flourishes). If you lean too heavily on the sex then they will warp into the social-media, stereotyped mannequins that make lame, forgettable characters. That's my opinion anyway ;)
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:iconhythrain:
hythrain Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013   Writer
That's what I try to do as well. Yes, sometimes the dialogue or events are affected by gender, but this happens both ways.

I happen to know a few Japanese ladies who have decent office jobs. It's rare, but it happens. Much like in North America, there are a lot of female teachers as well.

Emasculating is the term, and some people do think this. It's rather sad, really. All I say about it is "grow up and get with the times." There's no reason everything should be on a single gender, because that's when we create gender roles and inequality. Destroy them at the most base levels of society, and it'll eventually work its way up.

When it comes to jumping through hoops for a lady, I'm iffy on it. If she's someone whom I respect and who gives me respect, then I don't mind jumping through hoops since she's likely doing so for me as well. Those are the ladies I don't mind paying for on a date (Even if they refuse), because I know at some future point they'll do something to keep things balanced.
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:iconskwurlilala:
skwurlilala Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
[link] is this the picture you were talking about? P.S. do you mind if I link your amazing expression of something I'm sure a lot of women are tired of in my journal, I would like to spread this around a little bit. If you don't mind.
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It is the picture but out of respect for the artist I didn't want to link it. Although I disagree with the picture's subject, everyone has their own opinions and styles and I didn't want to disrespect him/her and I don't promote spreading negativity across dA. By all means you can share my journal entry though :)
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:iconskwurlilala:
skwurlilala Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I understand your feelings on not sharing the post. I just wanted to say I completely agree with your opinions on these subjects, I wish women "perfect" weren't so idealized in our society. It's unnatural the way men today aren't entertained enough by just seeing a normal girl on the screen in a video game. Just saddening.
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:iconhammarn80:
hammarn80 Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
As a man I can't help wanting to look at half-naked (or naked) women, but I agree that something is seriously wrong when most female characters are sexualized and displayed only as an object of desire. A woman can be both smart, sexy, funny, inspiring and intimidating. Just as a man can be all these things. The sexiness is just one aspect of a very complex person. For example look at the female characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Are they sexy? Yes, I think they are (some more than others, but that's personal taste). Are they sex objects? Definitely not!
So yeah, sex sells, but objectification of women? I'm not buying it!
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:icongeverglade-280:
geverglade-280 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2013
Well, I actually believe that damsels in distress are the actual most archaic form of male control. Because they are realistic characters, but they follow this obvious pattern, which is no longer real: Beautiful (or maybe not), suffering woman, who cannot defend herself, because she was told she was weak, thus she preffers to wait until a man arrives, so that she gains the courage she didn't have and runs away or regains what she has lost.

The maybe worst pattern about damsels in distress is that some way or another, they always have to end up linked to a man. Desperately in love, married, having his child, doing what they ought to do only because of him. Like a woman without a man had no purpose in life, which doesn't always happen to male characters. An example: Frodo, Gimli and Legolas didn't fall in love with any woman, they were lone heroes. But Arwen, Eowyn and even Galadriel for that matter, did not have the chance to become lone heroines: they had to fall in love and marry a man. Don't misunderstand, I love Tolkien, he is a genious. But here we can see a pattern that repeats itself so many times in so many novels. There is never an Artemisa, who survives alone till the end of her days. Or even an Aphrodita, who has different lovers. But then again, in male characters, it is completely acceptable to find this kind of behaviour.

About the female characters who are unreallistic, too strong, etc. etc. I agree. And I never found comfort on liking a female character who was perfect till her boots, because it didn't look real.

But strong warrior female characters can be realistic and they don't have to be perfect. In fact, they are not meant to be exceptionally beautiful or to catch the eyes of all men.

A female strong warrior who is brave, skilled, beautiful, perfect, eventually bores you. But a female character who is a warrior, who dresses more like a man than a woman, who is a little too wild or a little too insecure, who is not even so beautiful or has to hide her beauty, who has to fight in order to: protect her father(Mulan)/Kingdom(Eowyn)/Sister(Katniss Everdeen)/ avenge her family(Arya Stark)/save her empire(Youko(Twelve Kingdoms))/escape(Babydoll(Suckerpuch)). Those are the female characters who steal your heart, because they have a real development, and because they break that image of "perfect, beautiful damsel, following the steps she is told to follow".

I agree with you on what you say that all this females we see as warrior in movies, games, comics, etc. are more meant to be sexual icons than real heroines.

When I play a videogame and I choose the male character he is completely covered by armour. When I choose the female character she has some ridiculous bikini on, which of course shows more than what it should. I mean, how does she even fight like that?

An example: I liked Sucker Punch, even though many people hated it. I found an amazingly developed character in Baby Doll. She was crazy, schizophrenic, weak: A Damsel in Distress. Then, thanks to her own schizofrenia, she becomes a warrior. In the end she sacrifices herself for another girl, she is lost forever, trapped in her own world of schizofrenia. She is happy, being mad. One thing I didn't like about the whole movie: the costumes and the sexualization they made around the characters didn't allow people to understand the complexity of the characters. The strong sexualization around Baby and the other girls had a specific reason: they were whores, which meant they were constantly harassed, forced to dress with less clothes and seen as sexual objects: thus, sexualization, even in Baby's sick mind, could not be avoided.

The problem was that the audience foccused too much in the sexual visual form of the character, they left completely aside the fact of her own psichologic development.
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:icongeverglade-280:
geverglade-280 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2013
Um... sorry for such a long comment...
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:icongrendalunleashed:
GrendalUnleashed Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Professional General Artist
The crux of the issue you have answered in your closing statement "these primarily male writers/designers/illustrators" that is not to say that male creators are not capable of writing/designing a strong female lead, Buffy was script writer Joss Whedon's breakout character, Terry Moore's work focuses of strong female characters without the need to resort "to a sex object in the time it takes for her to turn around" Just as female writer's can write for a strong male lead, Mary Shelley to J. K. Rowling.

My own interpretation would be that many creators, both male and female, lack the imagination/determination/insight to see beyond the conceit which is, regrettably, still pervasive in media education that 'sex sells'.

The most visited image in my gallery here on dA is Femme Fatal my tribute to the Philip Marlowe/Sam Spade era which comes in for much derision as being 'sexist' even though it is in the parody of these stories that the women have become efemeral.

Neither Lauren Bacall nor Mary Astor could be described thusly in their respective roles.

A 'sexy' character, male or female, may sell in the short term, but a well defined, complex, character lasts and they are the ones I enjoy and recommend to others.
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh no, I'm not damning every single male writer. GRRM writes beautiful female characters, for example. I speak in terms of a sweeping generalization. Someone else prompted the idea that solely sexy characters are forgettable, and I agree. I feel saddened by that too, as it suggests that fictional girls are much more forgettable than men. Hopefully over the years audiences will yearn for more 3d characters and writers will respond accordingly. Hopefully.
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:iconelectrifried:
electrifried Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Well I admire artistic nudity, but only if it's done tastefully and has it's place as part of the entire artwork.

I have a problem when the nudity becomes gratuitous with over exaggerated features and accessories... the link you have definitely crosses the line >.< I hate seeing female characters being defined by their sexuality also, and it's annoying when they become popular because of that fact.

I'm playing the female Shepherd in Mass Effect atm and I think she's a really strong character in game :D But even then promo pics have her with makeup on during battle and that's kinda eye-roll worthy.
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I find that most female designs in videogames challenge what is tasteful. Sometimes I feel they only put clothes on the girls to make it past censors! Hopefully this will change in the future.
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:iconelectrifried:
electrifried Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Yeah some games can be important in challenging typical gender stereotypes. Although it's also disappointing to read about the blatant sexism that goes on in the video game industry today...not to mention most boardrooms and decisions with regards to movies, tv and games are heavily influenced by men.
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:iconjustasuta:
JustaSuta Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013  Student General Artist
I agree~

As a new generation of illustrators and designers, we gotta challenge the sexism and racism and other bad stuff in society! Weave it in there into everything you make...normalize better behaviours, talk about it~
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:iconstarwefter:
starwefter Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013
Try P.G. Hodgell, she has a wonderful heroine and a unique fantasy setting. And ignore the covers if you buy the Baen issued paperbacks, their artist gave her way too much T&A and the author has complained about it on her Live Journal blog. The cover art doesn't do the books justice.
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:iconstarwefter:
starwefter Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013
Try P.G. Hodgell, she has a wonderful heroine and a unique fantasy setting. And ignore the covers if you buy the Baen issued paperbacks, their artist gave her way too much T&A and the author has complained about it on her Live Journal blog. The cover art doesn't do the books justice.
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oooh, thanks for the recommendation! Looking for a new book to read atm. Will look it up :)
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:iconjikosangel:
jikosangel Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love everything you said above, and have left various comments on other peoples' opinions due to the varied facets of my opinion on this topic. However, I want to say that I love your mention of Buffy as a badass but well dressed character :) While she does wear very attractive things, and a variety of tight or short clothes, she is never half naked, never risque, and always badass <3

I am about to do a line of tshirt designs on redbubble with all of my favorite badass women from books and movies. So far, I've got quotes picked for Buffy, Veronica Mars, Hermione, Gemma Doyle (a Great and Terrible Beauty), Tessa and Clary (Clockwork Prince/Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare), and Katniss. If you haven't read all of those books, I recommend you do, because they are some incredibly inspirational lead females :) I am making this collection of shirts for all those girls (and women) out there who need the reminder that women can be brave, badass, and beautiful.
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's a brilliant idea :) Please send me the link! I'm on redbubble too! :) (I didn't even know you could design t shirt for redbubble!)
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:iconjikosangel:
jikosangel Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm kayeskew on there, send me a message and i'll follow you and let you know when they go up :) i was watching buffy with the bestfriend last week when she had the brainstorm, and then she researched a variety of possible quotes for me (she's the BOMB at finding the best quotes), and I'm gonna start working on them real soon :D Or, possibly this week, since apparently i work like never :/ at least it'll give me time to work on stuff.

Anyway, sorry, hit me up, and i'll totally let you know when they go up :D they're gonna be a labour of love <3
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:iconooosvn:
ooosvn Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I agree on every single word that's been put up here. If only more people would feel this way and create an interesting character of characteristic weight it would really bring about a change in social scenarios too.
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I would be very interested in seeing how a change in social media would effect things like crime against women and general feelings towards sexism. I feel it could play an important part for the younger generation who grow up playing computer games, and shaping the way think about and treat women.
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:iconooosvn:
ooosvn Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I agree. Though everywhere I see people like us who believe this. They ultimately get disconnected from the social media and move onto some respected groups in instrumentals or arts. However the others are still kinda in this weird shadow of the media. Some struggling to come out of it, some others enjoying it.
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:iconvya:
vya Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013
I agree! <3 I actually saw the picture here on the main site, too, I didn't even click on it because it just annoyed me so much. It was called something about war and amazones (?) but they looked like that..? Argh. D: That really makes sense.
Thanks for writing that, this is a thing that I also really dislike but I just can't find the words to express myself fluently. As if more clothes would change the character or make it less interesting.
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I clicked on it because I liked the drawing style, but after looking at it a few moments (and before I even glanced at the comments) I quickly became disgusted and was, to be frank, a little insulted. I guess I should've left it well alone haha!
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:icondragonfriend7738:
dragonfriend7738 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013
Just would like to point out a notable mention- Samus Aran. Yes, she got more sexualized in later games (Other M), but originally she was the single most kick-ass female in all of game domain.

But, in general, I agree with you, especially in relation to Kaine. (You should play through a second time, Neir is awesome for replay story.)

Don't get me wrong, I love eye candy, but there's a difference between occasional fanservice and blatant sexualization. A lot of the books that I read tend to break this stereotype, though. Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth has a lot of strong, independent and beautiful female characters. Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman also make some strong female characters.
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:icongraphix-goddess:
Graphix-Goddess Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013  Professional Writer
I plan on changing this with the many novels I am working on getting published soon. Nearly all of my lead characters are female - strong females with real clothes, jobs, pasts, and futures - females that change the course of their own and other people's lives as well as make a difference in their worlds. They don't need male counterparts to get by, but they sometimes choose them as friends and cohorts in their journeys.

And not in the "feministic" fashion so many people fear. I believe in strong women and girls who make a difference because of who they are and how they earn the respect of those around them.

Together, we can make a difference!!! Thank you for speaking out on this as well!!!
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you! I always come across like a crazy feminist when I talk about these things but I feel genuine despair when women are promoted to be nothing but flesh. The sad thing is it's programmed into us women too. We're moulded into believing we're inferior from a young age and I believe a change in social media (for example, putting clothes on video game characters) would make a big difference to our standing in the world.

Good luck getting published! It's a tough old world :)
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:icongraphix-goddess:
Graphix-Goddess Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Professional Writer
I don't see you as a crazy feminist at all. Don't worry. And yes, I do believe we have images shoved down our throats from a young age of how we "should" look and act.,

Thank you for the well wishes on my writing. I know it's a very tough trade, but I believe I will make it. My heart is in all I do.
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:iconrosyan:
Rosyan Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2013  Student General Artist
Hell yeah! I agree with you.
I think Nintendo hadn't been such an ass in this case; well, Zelda and Peach are both usually damsels in distress, but at least they have all the proper clothes on. And Zelda is sometimes kinda badass.
And now I think about those incredibly stupid metal strings you sometimes see on female characters... How can you even wear them?!?
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Luckily I think the game industry is slowly moving past the blatant damsels in distress characters. But i don't like it when they create a front of being badass but they end up relying on men anyway. But you're right, at least those two are covered up!
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:iconkouru17:
Kouru17 Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2013  Student Filmographer
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels this way. I find it pretty insulting and silly at the same time. How the heck can you even fight in such skimpy clothes? >.>; I agree that media is the big problem and sends out the wrong message. However, another fact is, that many of the people who come up with these sexual female characters are men and most of them just imagine women to be like this and live out their fantasies. Now, I don't blame them entirely, I understand why they do it, but frankly I feel that we won't really get many strong female characters unless we get women writers who understand this and develop strong female characters from a woman's perspective, ya know thinking about being more than just a sex object. Or a male writer/illustrator that knows how to make a woman look good and be just as awesome as the male character.

Also, its nice to see there are some men out there that agree!
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:iconhannah-alexander:
Hannah-Alexander Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I hate to say it, but I do blame male writers. Women write women best. I think men don't think their fantasies on paper effect women because they assume their audiences are entirely male, but it's damaging to both men and women. Men get a warped perceptions of women and us women are just plain insulted.
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:iconkouru17:
Kouru17 Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Student Filmographer
I agree.
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