Admonishing Absolution

“…that really kind of angry defensive feeling you got in your gut while you read this post where you felt attacked? That was your privilege kicking. ” – Brendan Keogh

I laughed at this. Not an uproarious booming projected in mockery, but a wry, sour snort at its surprising accuracy. Angry? Defensive? Without even having seen the trailer in question, I began mentally taking notes on my points of disagreement, filing away responses to de-construct Brendan’s piece – line by line if necessary. Then I read the quote above, laughed, and my irritation dissipated. I read the post again, this time unencumbered by a knee-jerk emotional reaction, but something still nagged at me: why did I get annoyed and defensive?

Brendan says it’s “privilege”, and I certainly fit that description: I’m also a straight, white, male. My interest in a feminist view of gaming is relatively recent – since Freeplay last year, in fact – so I’m also happy to class myself as appropriately ignorant on the subject. That said, “privilege”, to my mind, explains neither the immediacy nor the vehemence of  my negative reaction upon beginning to read Brendan’s post, but I’m fairly certain now what does.

[Trigger warning]

“Rape Culture”. The phrase itself is extremely unsettling, and re-reading Shakesville’s explanation and definition of the term (I found it after Freeplay last year too), confirmed my suspicions. At this point I’m going to pause and take a deep breath before proceeding, because I am acutely aware that what I’m going to say next could seriously offend people; something I normally couldn’t care less about, but really want to avoid with this topic.

I feel it’s too nebulous a term for the severity of its implications. Specifically, I disagree with the claim that sexualised violence constitutes rape culture. I distinguish sexualised because despite the shared etymological heritage, it bears entirely different connotations to sexual. From Wikipedia, sexual violence is:

“any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.” - World Health Organization., World report on violence and health (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2002)

The act of sexualisation:

“…refers to the making of a person, group or thing to be seen as sexual in nature[1] or a person to become aware of sexuality.”

While violence is:

“the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.” - Krug et al., “World report on violence and health”, World Health Organization, 2002.

Summarised, the differences could be denoted as follows: sexual violence is violence relating to sexual acts, while sexualised violence is violence made “sexy”. This is where I have a problem. Sexual violence, without a doubt, fits under the umbrella of rape culture, but sexualised violence? Defining sexualised violence as rape culture serves only to discredit the severity of rape and sexual violence, and I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is okay.

Let me be absolutely clear: I am not denying the existence of rape culture. I am not denying its existence in games. Neither am I suggesting that sexualised violence is acceptable, in games or any other medium.

What I object to, is the implication that sexualised violence and sexual violence are similar enough that they can be classed together – as rape culture or any other phrase. To suggest that a video game trailer (repugnant as it may be), is somehow on par with the experience of being raped, is to belittle the horror every rape and sexual violence victim has experienced.

The definition of a rape culture from Transforming a Rape Culture referenced in the Shakesville piece is as follows:

“A rape culture is a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm.

In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable as death or taxes. This violence, however, is neither biologically nor divinely ordained. Much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.”

Contrast this definition with the myriad examples provided (with appropriate links) by Melissa McEwan and I would hope that “violence seen as sexy” somehow doesn’t register on a scale that also includes children being accused of enjoying rape and sexual torture.

This is the Hitman: Absolution trailer in question:

It contains no sexual violence, promotion of sexual violence, or implication of sexual violence and yet we’re to understand that this is equivalent to a societal belief that wives and sex workers can’t be raped? The gratuitous sexualisation of  women is pathetic but nothing about Agent47 suggests sexual desire, or an act of sexual aggression and I simply have trouble swallowing this as rape culture.

Now that I’m sure my defensive reaction wasn’t just privilege, how do we resolve the problem? I think we need another word or phrase to refer to the prolific sexualised violence in our society – in video games, in movies, in television, and in advertising; something that doesn’t trivialise rape and its victims. I don’t know what word or phrase might be, but I feel as though I know what it isn’t.

~ by accurateobservation on June 2, 2012.

21 Responses to “Admonishing Absolution”

  1. Hey Terrence,

    It’s great to see you trying to work through your coming to terms with your own privilege! It’s not an easy road at all, and not one we ever quite get to the end of, but considering so many men take one step onto the asphalt, close their eyes and start screaming that the road doesn’t exist, you’re doing excellently!

    In relation to your post, I would argue that you are perhaps being too semantic with your distinguishing of sexual violence and sexualised violence. Obviously, no one is actually saying a trailer for a videogame ‘is actually as bad as’ rape itself. Of course it isn’t. But it exists on a continuum. Sexualised violence is able to reinforce and strengthen a culture where sexual violence is permitted. Not legally permitted, of course, but culturally permitted.

    An important element of it this, especially when we are talking about images and animations and games, is the concept of the male gaze. It’s the idea that the camera itself is gendered, that is assumes you are looking at the images from a male perspective. Most explicitly, you see this in pornography (usually because the camera is indeed being held by a man), but it is more subtly at in a lot of movies and television, and it is at play in this trailer with the close ups on boobs and crotches. So, sure, 47bro is asexual and, sure, the violence is sexualised violence, not sexual violence. But the images are culturally encoded. It’s a stage set up by men for men to look at.

    So yes, at the ‘centre’ of rape culture, if you will, is the act of rape itself and (crucially) the way women are forced to constantly live in fear of it. This can’t help but influence the cultural texts and artworks our society creates, and it can’t help but be influenced by those texts and artworks, too.

    So the producers of this trailer didn’t go “Hey, let’s make this symbolise rape!” But the underlying rape culture in society was still there when the trailer was being produced, influencing decisions being made. And, in turn, the trailers existence and its conflation with sexualisation and violence can’t help but feed back into that same culture.

    I’m not sure if that makes any sense, sorry. But ultimately, I would say that you are right that there is a difference between sexual violence and sexualised violence, but I would say that difference does not make the two distinct, and both contribute to a society where women can’t feel safe doing many of the things men take for granted.

    Thanks for writing this post and for being brave enough to publicly talk through your own privilege. I hope some other people give you clearer and better answers than this ramble!

    -Brendan

    Oh, PS. Another good idea could be to ask some women in your life to watch the trailer with you, and ask them how it makes them feel? Maybe they won’t mind it! Maybe they will love it! Maybe (I imagine) they’ll find it deeply disturbing. They’re the ones that have to tolerate rape culture so they’d be the best ones to ask about it! :)

  2. I appreciate the support – it seems like this will never be an easy topic to broach, and one that seems ripe for misunderstanding and hatred.

    Interestingly my fiancée wasn’t aware of my blog’s title and read through it (thanks to automated Facebook posting) agreeing with everything it said. In providing some background, I showed the trailer and I read to her a summarised version of your post, specifically -
    “Do I have a problem with the existence of female assassins? No. Do I have a problem with female assassins dressing up as nuns? No…. Here, see how a real man assassin puts you in your place. No, he doesn’t ‘literally’ rape them, but a male forced these (fictional) women to act in a way males would find them sexy while another male did violence to them. That is teaching women their place. That is fucked up. That is rape culture.”
    - and she entirely agreed with that also!

    My contention is not that anything you have said is intrinsically wrong, because it isn’t as far as your support of your arguments; just that I think rape culture is done a disservice by having sexualised violence associated with it. I don’t discount a relationship between the two, but I do feel as though it trivialises the “real” issues of rape culture – the culture in which we unfortunately live.

  3. Wow man. No. Just, no.

  4. Another way to think of it is that sexualized violence creates and promotes the attitudes that make sexual violence possible. It’s a continuum. For instance, in the Hitman trailer: all of the women have the same body type, and it looks to me as though they used the same face model for all of them. With the exception of the black woman, they’re all practically identical (and the racial implications of her appearance is a whole ‘nother ball of wax that I will leave for someone more qualified than me to comment on). Most of the shots of their faces are very short, whereas the shots of their boobs, crotches, butts, and legs… linger. Basically, this trailer’s message is: women are interchangeable body parts and interesting mostly for their secondary sexual characteristics. They aren’t really people. That’s the mindset you have to be in to rape someone else.

  5. Thanks for that explanation, it makes a lot of sense. I think Brendan’s reply above also says a similar thing, just in a slightly different way, and I don’t think I followed his description of cause and effect as well as yours, so thanks for making it clearer.

    On the other hand, a response like “just no” doesn’t really help someone trying to understand the issues involved. This is a self-learning opinion piece, not an empirical or scientific study, so there was every possibility (probability?) I was wrong.

  6. I tend to think of rape culture as “the pillars of social attitudes and social norms that support the trivialization of rape (and sexual assault and sexual harassment) to be trivialized, victim blaming for those raped (etc), and allow those crimes to be as pervasive and under-reported as they are.”

    You are right. There is a difference between sexualized violence and sexual violence. However, violence made sexy is one of the social attitudes that makes joking about rape and joking about *violent* rape acceptable, and joking about rape and violent rape are what make rape so common, and contribute in SO MANY ways to victim blaming and trivializing rape. There’s probably an even more direct relation to sexualized violence being a social norm that contributes to rape culture, but I’m not finding the words for it right now.

    You said: “It contains no sexual violence, promotion of sexual violence, or implication of sexual violence and yet we’re to understand that this is equivalent to a societal belief that wives and sex workers can’t be raped?” I’m sure there are people who would answer that as yes. My answer is no, it’s not equivalent to a societal belief that wives and sex workers can’t be raped. But it is a contributing factor in creating the society that holds that belief.

    I’m not sure what you meant by “classed together” when you said “What I object to, is the implication that sexualised violence and sexual violence are similar enough that they can be classed together – as rape culture or any other phrase.” I don’t think anyone I’ve read speaking on this have said that sexualized violence is the same thing as sexual violence. The issue is that sexualized violence normalizes the conflation of sex and violence, which leads to a prevalence of sexual violence.

    I hope this provides a reframing of rape culture that is helpful.

  7. Hey, total stranger here, but good on you for being willing to start digging. It will get easier to understand privilege in general and yours specifically as you get further on in deconstructing it.

  8. It seems to me that your problem is really with the phrase ‘rape culture’. And I agree it’s not a perfect term, given how it’s used. The original meaning, via Wikipedia, was ‘a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence.’ But it has been used more broadly to describe anything misogynist or which depicts violence against women.

    Personally, I think ‘rape culture’ is a useful concept to think about and analyse with – does this thing promote a culture of rape? But ultimately, the world is too complicated to say definitively ‘this is/is not an example of rape culture’ or ‘this is/is not a rape culture’. It’s not the type of thing that can be measured scientifically.

    So perhaps, in the case of the Hitman trailer, ‘rape culture’ was not the best way to go about criticising it. But of course, it’s not the beginning and end of feminism. Regardless of whether the trailer specifically encourages sexual violence, and you can argue that it doesn’t, it’s clearly problematic in other ways: the casual use of eroticisation of violence against women (or, violence against eroticised women) is a bad thing in itself. That’s the important thing here, rather than being caught up in the exact language used. That’s my view anyway.

  9. It’s also worth bearing in mind that a *lot* of people still think of rape as being primarily about sexual desire: he (the rapist) just wants her (the victim) SO MUCH that he can’t restrain himself. The truth is that a lot of the time it’s about other things, like power: being able to “put her in her place,” or prove he’s a “real man,” or whatever.

    When we repeatedly and pervasively conflate sexuality with violence, it contributes to that misperception (because then rape is just “violent sex”). And the misperception contributes to things like victim-blaming: it isn’t the man’s fault for losing control, it’s the woman’s fault for dressing like that, etc. For being too sexy. And yet — the flip side of a very ugly coin — we live in a society that constantly demands women *be* sexy. Better put on makeup, dress nicely, play along with the men who want to flirt, advertise yourself as desirable, or else we’ll call you a frigid bitch, deny you a promotion, rape you to put you in your place.

    Around and around it goes. It isn’t that these things are all equivalent; it’s that you can’t separate them from one another. If the prevalence of rape in our culture had a single, isolate cause, putting an end to it would be relatively easy. Unfortunately, it has a thousand roots, and digging out even one is like shoveling against the tide.

    I hope that helps in making sense of why the people who are activists on the subject believe it’s necessary to look at the whole continuum, rather than just one end of it.

  10. perhaps im missing something, all i see is assassins fighting assassins. sure the female assassins are clad in pvc etc but i dont see how that even remotely makes them less dangerous? it seems this whole debate is completely subjective, if you believe that the women are ‘sexualised’ then is that not your own preference? violence is violence, would your viewpoint be changed if it were a woman killing a group of men in scant pvc clothing? or would it still be sexualised violence and would she then ‘be putting those men in their place’?

    • Not the author, but that comment demands a reply:
      “would your viewpoint be changed if it were a woman killing a group of men in scant pvc clothing?”

      There are two answers to that question. Firstly – yes, it would be less problematic if it was a woman killing men. If the violence was sexualised (e.g. the men were all wearing sexy outfits and the camera focused on their bodies as they died), it would still be problematic, but less so thant his way round. The reason is simply that in real life, men kill women far more often than women kill men. Male violence against women is a serious, real life problem; female violence against men (generally) isn’t.

      But there’s a second, simpler answer, which is this: it’s a pointless question, because it wouldn’t happen. No one would make a game trailer which featured a woman killing a group of men dressed in sexy outfits, because game trailers are made by men, for men. If you disagree, I challenge you to find me a single example of a trailer for a game where the men, and not the women, are depicted as sexy, and are the victims of sexualised violence. Go on, I’ll wait. Now, if we lived in a society where people made videos like that, it might be a problem, but since we don’t it isn’t.

      Hope that clears things up a bit.

      • a game where a female kills over sexualised males? heres just one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysOzqTB3ABA im sure i could go and find multiple trailers for the other games out there but this should suffice.

        Sorry, but i had to laugh at the hypocrisy here. the double standard is just too funny. Game studios hire females too, the very notion that females are not involved in any way in these trailers is not only preposterous but highly sexist, although that does to seem more the theme here than anything else. Female on male violence is not a problem? im sure the male victims of Female on Male rape would disagree. How about females that beat their spouses. not a problem since they are male?

        All i keep seeing from everyone that it is MEN to blame, all men are bad and will objectify you. Women will objectify other women just as fast, men will objectify men and both will equally sexualise each other. are we supposed to believe that Agent47 is a normal depiction of a man? id hope not. He is every bit as over sexualised as the women in this trailer , with close ups of his massive chest, back and biceps as he dons his sharp white shirt with his stylish black suit. Is that suitable attire for an assassin? nope, it is neither functional nor practical for an assassin to wear. And yet not one person has complained about this? Not at one point in the trailer do you see a shot of any where NEAR the amount of skin that is shown on 47. All but two of them are covered in head to toe PVC ( a practical choice when your line of work will most likely leave you covered in blood ) and one has her arms on show. I can agree that they need not be so revealing as they are definately a little impractical ( suspenders for an assassination, i dont think so ) but they are definatelty not grounds for accusing people of sexualising violence against women.

        As for the violence in the trailer, the women are clearly enemy assassins. How do i know this? well i know it might be kind of a push, but i thought the fact they were COVERED in weapons gave it a way a little. So being assassins, things are going to get a LOT more violent when another assassin is sent to end you, at which point, regarless of gender, skill comes into play. Agent47 is pretty skilled. You can tell this by the amount of games hes been in ( even a movie :O) He is also the protagonist of the game, so logic dictates that these other assassins will not be as skilled and will be killed. end of story, there is no sexuality (or even gender) implied or stated (every one of those nuns could be a transgender male hell 47 could be a female). It is people killing people. The viewer is making the distinction of whether the people dying are “sexy” or not.

        and since im blabbing on so much i do want to get back to the whole

        “yes, it would be less problematic if it was a woman killing men.”because ” in real life, men kill women far more often than women kill men”

        this is neither equality or feminism , it is PURE sexism. so many people are looking at this subject from such a skewed point of view and trying to apply things that just DO NOT apply to this trailer that they arent even noticing how much they are trivialising the things they are talking about. If you want to talk about REAL LIFE sexualisation and violence against others then the fight should not be about “oh men are bad uh hyuk” or “durr them wiminz brot it on themsulves” or some other such prattle , it should be about ending violence against other COMPLETELY!! no one should be raping ANYONE or should be even thinking its an option. NO ONE should have to feel like they cannot dress, speak, eat, talk whatever without fear or something happening to them, MALE AND FEMALE. we are all people, we all hurt the same, we all bleed the same and we all die the same. Stop making the distinction between “male on female sexual violence” and “female on male sexual violence” , it is just sexual violence and it has to stop.

        Those women are far more powerful and skilled (probably better dressed) than half of the REAL men and women out there that children are emulating, that is the issue people should be channeling all this misguided rage at. At no point in this trailer did me ( or my fiance sitting next to me ) find anything even remotely worth provoking the kind of response it did.

        Hope that clears things up a bit.

      • OK, firstly, thanks for the reply. I appreciate the time you put into it. I’ll try to put as much effort into this reply.

        I watched the trailer you linked – it’s not quite the same thing as the Hitman one, in a couple of ways. The camera doesn’t linger over close-ups of the men’s bodies as it does with the ‘nuns’ in the Hitman video. And while they’re dressed impractically, so is the woman fighting them: it’s clearly a game of equal-opportunity silly costumes. Not so much in the Hitman video, where 47 wears the same stylish suit as always, while the nuns wear wildly impractical corsets, suspenders and high heels. The equivalent would be if 47 was dressed as some kind of gay leatherman, all covered in chains and piercings. You can argue that his outfit is ‘neither functional nor practical’, but even compared to him, what the nuns are wearing is ridiculous.

        As for the ‘these are people killing people, they’re all assassins’ – not really. Yes, I get that the nuns start shooting 47 first, then he fights back and kills them. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s not even the idea of a man killing women that I have a specific problem with; it’s the way the female assassins are portrayed. If they were dressed in more sensible outfits, and if the camera didn’t focus on their bodies as they turn up, look sexy and get killed, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. It would have been possible to make this trailer in a way which didn’t go for the sexy angle. But the makers did, and I don’t think you can argue that there’s no intended sexiness here – there obviously is.

        I do accept the point that women work in the game industry too, and it’s true, I don’t know for sure the genders of the people who made this trailer. Some of them might have been women. But even if they were, I think the trailer is still clearly meant to appeal to the tastes of straight males.

        I do agree that ‘Women will objectify other women just as fast, men will objectify men and both will equally sexualise each other’. I simply think that *in our culture*, it’s much more common for women to be sexualised than men, particularly in videogames. Yes, there are some examples of sexualised men in games, but there are also plenty of male characters who aren’t sexy, while the considerable majority of female characters in games are basically there to look hot. This is changing, but not as fast as it should.

        And I know that some women do commit violence against men, and of course I condemn that. When you say no one should be hurting or raping anyone, I completely agree! I don’t think real-life violence by women is any better than real-life violence by men. I just recognise that, for whatever reasons, there’s a lot more of the latter than the former. We men don’t generally feel afraid walking down the street alone, while women often do. Many more husbands kill their wives than the other way around. That’s why I find fictional violence by men against women more of a problem than the other way around, because it’s something that women are more likely to come across in real life. As I said, I think this trailer could have been done in a way that made the gender of the assassins irrelevant, but it obviously wasn’t.

        Now, does this trailer hurt anyone directly? No. Is it going to make any man who watches it go out and kill a woman? I don’t think so. So I’m not *that* concerned about it. I just think it’s disappointing that the makers chose to make it the way they did, in a way that emphasises the sexuality of the women more than anything else. They went with that angle, because they know ‘sex sells’ (as does controversy), and I wish they hadn’t. Especially when it’s not really appropriate for the game, which is supposed to be about stealthy assassinations in a fairly realistic world, not over-the-top sex and violence out of an exploitation film.

        …OK, I think that’s just about everything I have to say on the matter. I’ll go away now and leave this blog to the person who originally wrote it. But I just hope that now we understand each other a little better. To be fair, I don’t think you’re some kind of raging sexist – it’s clear from your comments you’re not. And I hope you don’t see me as some kind of crazy self-hating man. I think we just see things a little differently, and you don’t quite see the problems in this trailer that I do.

        Anyway, thanks for the conversation, and goodnight.

    • It’s not really about how “dangerous” they are, and it’s only subjective if viewed through the lens of privelege. I think I kind of understand your argument that you have find them attractive and sexy to see them as sexualised, because the thought crossed my mind for a brief second, but it’s very simply countered: the skin-tight clothing they wear, accuating breasts, legs, bottoms, is targeted to what the majority of a male audience finds attractive. So whether or not you personally find them sexually appealing (and I would agree if you didn’t), the fact remains they are sexualised. That is to say: there is a difference between your attraction, and your ability to understand what sexualisation means and how it is represented in our culture, and if right now you can’t make that distinction, I would suggest reading up on the subject.
      Critical analysis is a skill taught in most secondary schools, and I would be surprised if you told me yours didn’t, or doesn’t. In very basic terms, it’s de-constructing what you see, whether it’s the latest game trailer, an advertisement for fabric softener, or Schindler’s List. Start asking yourself questions: why did the director choose this camera angle? what effect does the lighting composition have? why are women stripping off their clothes to kill 47, when everything they do could have been achieved with them on?
      In answer to your final question, if the “Woman 47″ was wearing a pant suit, and a bunch of men dressed as priests approached, and tore off their robes to reveal muscled, oiled, bodies, clad in only leopard-print g-strings, would you be completely okay with it? Wouldn’t you maybe, just maybe, start thinking to yourself: I don’t really see why they had to do that…?

      • “I don’t really see why they had to do that” <– this right here is what im shooting at. the reason for pulling off the loose hanging robes to me is from a practicality stand point. if i was wearing a trench coat to conceal all my weapons ( as they are doing with their robes ) i would no doubt throw it off because there is no way you are throwing the kicks and knees they were throwing or getting ANY semblance or maneuverability in a trench coat ( or robe). they could have as easily walked down the road without wearing the robes with all their weapons on show, but thats not very stealthy.

        I can only assume that you didnt get a chance to read my reply before since i address most of the things you say against what i have said ( while coming off a little condescending) No i cant say that i was privileged enough to go to a secondary school where i could learn critical analysis. I did however learn it in a filmcraft and animation course i took in college ( although could not complete unfortunately but thats my own problem) as you can see in my previous comment, i did ask a lot of questions of the trailer, i also provided my reasoning for my points.
        I would be fine with a game where “Woman 47″ was wearing a pant suit, and a bunch of men dressed as priests approached, and tore off their robes to reveal muscled, oiled, bodies, clad in only leopard-print g-strings" it is almost word for word the game i described to my fiance when i asked "would it have to be this way to make it ok" to which she replied "but then there would be crys of "oh they are overly sexualising males" and no one wins"

        i am definitely not some over privileged child looking to make an argument over something ive never experienced, nor am i some out of touch whack job that has to attack everything. im merely a poor 20something male, with first hand experience with both sexual assault and rape, i am also one of those people got to understand the argument of "can a wife be raped" in my young life, first hand. you gain a lot of empathy for such crimes when you are trapped behind a door with no way to help.

        my real problem is the distinctions people are and arent making. No one seems to actually care about the trailer and whatever it stands for. They just use it as a jumping point to try and further their own agenda, which is almost all "OMG MEN OBJECTIFY, SEXUALISE AND RAPE WOMEN" and proceed to tell everyone that it only happens to women and that it doesnt really matter if it happens to men. That , to me anyway, is just as closed minded as the people chanting "OH THE WOMEN BRING IT ON THEMSELVES" if we want to get militant on the sexualisation that this trailer portrays then you cannot look at it only from a "females are being sexualised" or "males are being sexualised" stand point. WE ALL ARE. every PERSON is being sexualised in that trailer, not just women or men. every person is being exploited all the time , all around us. be it the chiseled abs of mens health, the anorexic female and male models on the catwalk or the idea that if you are chubby then you are ugly. its not just one gender doing it to the other, we are all being judged by the same sex too. there is also violence with same sex couples, male and female, that no one ever discusses either. Its just not appropriate or acceptable for all the abuse that is happening to anyone. men , women, children , animals. anything.

        im really sorry if ive repeated myself, came off as aggressive/over defensive or made it seem like im trying to say anyones viewpoint is wrong, i just believe that people need to accept that the same applies for everyone not just one gender and that not all men or women are as bad as everyone is making them out to be. =(

      • You’re right that I didn’t see your reply – Alasdair and I replied at almost the exact same time, so I’d already posted when you were writing your reply to him.

        I want to clarify that when talking about “privilege” on this topic, we don’t mean being brought up in a rich family, getting the best education and the best jobs (that is a different kind of privilege). What privilege means in this instance, is being a straight, white, male (which I am). It means that I’m not a part of any minority, I’ve never struggled because of the colour of my skin, and I’ve not been marginalised because I’m attracted to the opposite sex. It may not sound like a “privilege”, especially if you’ve undergone hardships in your life, but simply being a straight while male in this society means you’ll never encounter problems that you would if you weren’t any of those things.

        The issue here Andrew is the trailer itself doesn’t stand for anything. Things happen but that’s all. There’s no deeper meaning, it’s not “art”. It’s advertising, and it uses sexualisation of women, because that sells. It offers nothing more than sexualised violence, targeted at a straight male audience.

        The “agenda” you’ve described is not an agenda at all, but a fact – men do objectify, sexualise, and rape women. No, it doesn’t ONLY happen to women, but it happens MOSTLY to women. I’m not suggesting for a second that it doesn’t matter if it happens to men, but we don’t live in a culture where we objectify and sexualise men, like we do with women.

        I think your focus is a little to narrow on my comment “I don’t really see why they had to do that” – I wasn’t talking just about the removal of robes. I was also talking about (in this hypothetical reversal trailer) the lack of clothes, the choice of body type, and the oiled appearance. You’re fiancée’s comment is precisely MY point It doesn’t matter which gender it is: if you portray the characters in a certain way (skin-tight latex on women, or g-string wearing oily muscle men), it’s still sexualised. If your fiancée can see why my reversal trailer suggestion is sexualisation, why can’t you see that the current one is? They are after all, the same thing. It definitely isn’t about any specific gender “winning”, especially when everyone could have “won” if the trailer had been made without the sexualisation aspect.

  11. accurateobservation said:

    “In answer to your final question, if the “Woman 47″ was wearing a pant suit, and a bunch of men dressed as priests approached, and tore off their robes to reveal muscled, oiled, bodies, clad in only leopard-print g-strings, would you be completely okay with it?”

    My first reaction would be hysterics. (The clutch my stomach laughing kind.) Then I would probably sprinkly my screen with holy water to cleanse the beefcake caked around the edges.

    But in all seriousness, I often cover my eyes in embarrasment when the “sexy female assassins” appear in film. I know female assassins often use their allure as a weapon, but I also know they don’t pose so the camera can ogle them.

  12. @Alasdair , unfortunately there is no way for me to do the equivalent of a Facebook ‘Like’ on your second comment ( and you may not even read this one ) because THAT is exactly the reasoning that is needed in this debate. I can get behind all of the points you made in that post ( a far cry from all the blame throwing everywhere else that everyone’s doing)

    I think it was wrong of me to assume that because i can look past the outfits and such and just see “assassin vs assassin” that everyone can. i didnt really think about it from the viewpoint of a teen male, whose gaze is probably fixated on the outfits rather than the people in them.

    “I just think it’s disappointing that the makers chose to make it the way they did, in a way that emphasises the sexuality of the women more than anything else” this is the exact feeling people should have for this trailer, i believe, not the vehement hate it has generated.

    I definately see the problems in the trailer and would rather the women had a more “assassin-y”? look , i also wish 47 was less of a hulk and more average and that the battle scene was the focus rather than getting to the battle, but the voice of the few will always be always be drowned out by the screams of the many.

    im still just saddened that most people are looking at it from such an angry viewpoint and comparing this trailer to the real life violence that happens every day. the trailer is in poor taste yes, but if there are so many people opposed to even this tiny amount of exploitation of virtual characters then why arent more people trying to prevent this sort of exploitation in the real world when far worse is happening to men , women and children not just one gender? i suppose that is my real complaint? everyone wants to throw blame but not do anything about it and most of it seems to be focused on blaming males. It makes me feel horrible to think that no matter how hard i try, no matter how many good things ive done in my life, i will just be thrown into that same group of people just because of my gender but not many people realise that there are men out there that feel this way, the exact way women do not want to be treated because of their gender. which is why i keep putting such emphasis on us all being people.

    but this is all perhaps because i have experience in these matters.I may be a 6ft male but i know what its like to be afraid walking down a street ( or anywhere for that matter ) because i have severe problems with my anxiety. i can understand where rape and violence victims are coming from because i grew up with an extremely violent alcoholic father and had to try my best to protect my family from him, so when i couldnt prevent him from beating or raping my mother, her pain became mine. i gave up my teen years, my college life and my social life to protect my family from all of this and i would have happily given more including my life just to be able to prevent it all. so hopefully you can forgive my annoyance with people constantly blaming all males when there are a few of us out there who have literally fought to prevent real life abuse.

    i do not believe you to be a self hating male, nor do i have anything against any of the people voicing their opinions (and i know im repeating myself here heh) i just have a problem with the lines people are drawing in the sand between males and females. i just want us all to be against hurting eachother ( that includes attacks on genders, races, languages, disabilities sexual preference etc.)

    Im very glad that we understand each other and have hopefully broadened each others views.

    P.S after reading this over before posting it seems a little like a sob story. im not trying to prove anything or make anyone feel bad or get any sympathy by posting my experiences. just trying to help anyone reading this get a better understanding of where im coming from.

    P.P.S im very thankful that i am able to actually have a conversation with people that do indeed read my whole comments and try to understand me instead of just being annoyed with me for coming off rather blunt.

    • Hey,

      Just one brief final comment. I totally understand where you’re coming from now: you object to the idea that just because you’re male, you should be held responsible for the wrongdoing of all the other men in the world.

      I’ll just say that feminism isn’t supposed to work like that. It’s not supposed to be ‘all men are collectively responsible for all the evils in the world, and all women are entirely innocent’. That’s the cartoon stereotype of it, and I get frustrated when there are people who think that’s what it’s about. It’s supposed to be about ending all the privileges and prejudices that come with gender, and ensuring that everyone is treated equally as people. Unfortunately there are a small few who do take the ‘all men evil, all women good’ line, which is equally frustrating and rather ruins it for the rest of us. But most feminists are not like that.

      Feminism does say that, as men, we are *generally* given advantages over women in society, and gain certain privileges because of our gender. (Obviously that’s a broad generalisation: it doesn’t mean all men have a great time, or that there are no privileges associated with being female.) Among those are the privileges of being able to play a male character in a game without being depicted sexually, and being less likely to be a victim of sexual violence. But – and this is important – that privilege is not something you should feel *guilty* about. We didn’t choose to be born male, we didn’t make the world the way it is. In a certain sense, we are all ‘responsible’ on some level for the ideas and stereotypes in our culture; but that responsibility includes everyone, women and men. And all it means is that when you see an idea or stereotype that you disagree with, it’s up to you to challenge it.

      So, essentially what I’m saying is: if you have lived a decent, moral life, and always treated women (and men) with dignity and respect, then you have nothing to feel personally guilty about. You are not the problem. All feminism asks is that you be aware there are certain advantages to being male, because not everyone acts like that, and women tend to suffer the results more than men. But hopefully one day we can achieve a society where that’s no longer the case, and everyone is treated with the respect they deserve.

      Thanks for reading, and have a happy life.

  13. @accurateobservation aahh i meant to elaborate more on the whole “I don’t really see why they had to do that” thing. my meaning was, i didnt see why they had to do any of it. from 47 sliding off his shirt in the most awkwardly provocative way possible to assassins being dressed as ‘sexy’ nuns

    i also understood your use of privilege before too , my meaning of privilege was more in the “i am extremely poor and come from a poor area where critical analysis is less important than becoming a painter or mechanic” kind of way heh

    although i may be a straight white male, i live in an area where you are considered ‘gay’ if you do not enjoy football (soccer) , do not want to fight with everyone you see, do not hate people who are homosexual or are in any way different than the cookie cutter stereotype of a male. i am the exact opposite in that i used to play the violin until fighting to try and defend my own right to play an instrument without abuse made me quit, have never been interested in sports until later in my life and was more interested in playing games and building computers than going out and getting drunk. so ive had to deal with everything you stated except problems with my skin, being different and thin however? thats a whole other matter.

    I dont know about the culture where you live but the emphasis on male sexuality here in Scotland is definately escalating. Shows like the jersey shore and the only way is essex promote hugely muscled men with abs that you could crack a coconut on, covered in fake tan, wearing £300 jeans and spending even more on alcohol with women agreeing that you need to look like and act like that to look good. women will try and touch you without asking, if you have ‘six pack’ abs , they will grab at your arms and body like its on sale and treat you like a mutant if you find a problem with this. i dont believe that it makes me less of a man if i do not want to be touched but not everyone here has that mindset so many men are exploited and be made into what their girlfriends want and controlled emotionally or through sex.

    the ‘agenda’ im speaking about is not the FACTS but the people that disregard the facts and parrot on “men are bad men are bad” without basis the over generalization of an entire sex ( straight males).

    it seems youve misunderstood everything ive said and are under the impression that my fiance ( a rape and sexual abuse survivor) and i do not have the same view of this situation, i havent once said i dont understand or cant see the sexualisation only that it doesnt affect me but i explained why i thought that was in my reply to Alasdair. How could i have suggested to my fiance prior to reading this without understanding it? my point was no one was even suggesting this

    my focus in everything ive posted is equality over everything else, im not trying to argue for this trailer or against what anyone is saying. i just want everyone to stop the abuse completely, to stop saying “oh men do it more than women” or “women shouldnt be dressed like that” or whatever other crap people want to force on others. people should be allowed to dress however they want,do whatever they want , love whoever they want. without someone forcing their narrowminded rules on them.

  14. I’m not sure if someone commented on this already, but I wanted to post it as well. In this scene, there is also a negative religious connotation of it, and I don’t mean the bashing of religion. What I mean is, you see these women go to kill Agent 47, a man who makes a career of killing, who is, I’m assuming, in the same type of field that these women are.

    So we get the obvious violence, and he kills them, and he’s the badass he’s supposedly supposed to be…and as I mentioned there is a religious tone to it as well, which is also made clear in the title. The women are left to BURN, and the imagery towards the end clearly depicts that. So it sort of implies that these women are being punished for their crimes of killing, or even lashing out against their contrived place, by burning in hell, while Agent 47 is free to leave and seek his absolution. In other words, they’ll be punished, while he’ll be forgiven.

    That can translate into women who are raped (as they are are supposed to be?) will be punished, while the one responsible is free to be forgiven for his crime.

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