Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer, Getting Big Breasted Characters Off My Chest

Recently I have been noticing a theme in my Twitter feed, big breasts. Specifically characters in video games that have big breasts.

Lulu-Final-Fantasy-X-HD-Screenshot  Lulu from Final Fantasy X

Now there has been a lot of discussion in the last few years about over sexualisation and objectification of female video game characters and a common complaint is too much generosity in the design of the female character’s breasts.  There seems to be an idea among critics of video games that female characters cannot be strong, well developed, kickass women if they have big breasts. However it seems there may be the beginnings of a backlash forming. Recently a number of female gamers, particularly those that are themselves well endowed in the chest area, have begun to push back against the idea that having big breasted female characters in video games is inherently sexist. They argue that big breasted women have as much right to representation in video games as women with small or average breasts.

Even Total Biscuit recently addressed this issue on his Twitter.   TB1TB2

dragonscrown           Sorceress from Dragon’s Crown

 

I myself am a big breasted woman, a UK G cup which is equivalent to a US H cup. I have watched this issue for years with some trepidation, what seems to have started out as a well meaning effort to introduce a wider variety of body types in gaming has degenerated into a mess of assumptions and body shaming. There is a belief that if a female character in a game has large breasts then she must have no character or agency and that she only exists to cater to the ‘male gaze’. This may have something to do with the emergence of the Fighting Fuck Toy trope label, a term that was coined by Dr. Caroline Heldman an Associate Professor of Politics.

But what is a Fighting Fuck Toy?

According to the Fighting Fuck Toy Blog the term refers to women characters that seem empowered but are actually only really designed to appeal to a male audience i.e female action heroes. “Though in modern day they’re featured as the alpha character in most mediums, they’re still depicted as sexual objects, something to be desired by men. Yes, they fight crimes like badasses, but they’re physical appearance, body type and wardrobe – the huge bust size, small waist and little (or see-through) clothing they wear that leaves nothing to the imagination – are mainly the qualities that hook people in (especially the men).”

mortal Ivy Valentine from Soulcalibur

Pop Culture Critic Anita Sarkeesian explains, of female characters that embody the Fighting Fuck Toy, that this “hyper-sexualized, hyper-violent female character presents the illusion of female empowerment but is designed as a sexual fantasy.”

So from my perspective there are a number of problems with this. My first problem being that if characters are designed with big breasts in order to be a fantasy well then what’s wrong with that? Gaming is, for the most part, a visual medium based on fantasy and escapism. Some games, such as Dragon’s Crown, are known for their distinctive visual style and exaggerated, cartoony character design. While I would like to see a greater variety of character body types and ages depicted in video games it is not because I see attractive video games characters as problematic but more because I would like to see developers given the creative freedom to tell a wider variety of stories involving a wider variety of characters. The characterisation and criminalisation of attractiveness is slightly baffling to me. Yes the size of these character’s breasts may be an attempt to make the game appealing to straight men and the majority of men enjoy looking at breasts, so what? A great many straight women and people in the LGBT community like looking at breasts too. The enjoyment of looking at breasts is a biological imperative, a part of how the human animal forms complex chemical and emotional bonds associated with mating and the rearing of young. Acknowledging that does not reduce women in any way.

My other problem with the ‘big breasts as fantasy appeal’ argument is that the notion that big breasted women may see these characters as an empowering power fantasy does not seem to have occurred to these people. There are times when having big breasts is not much fun, it can be uncomfortable, and expensive. Often it will come with assumptions or snarky behaviour, as much from other women as from men. Is it wrong to play a video game and fantasise that we are like that woman? Kicking ass and taking names in between the nightmare of bra shopping and lower back pain? Did the thought ever materialise that women with big breasts might like to imagine that they could be an action hero? Or a warrior? Or an adventurer? If overdeveloped male characters are designed as a power fantasy for men then why can’t the same be said for overdeveloped female characters for women?

dwarf Dwarf from Dragon’s Crown

Voldo from Soulcaliburvoldo

Also there seems to be this assumption that big breasted female characters lack agency or have no noticeably defined character. Again I would argue that this really isn’t any different for men and is more dependent on the type of game. Is Marcus in Gears of War a particularly rounded and developed character? Is anyone really looking for meaningful dialogue and character development in DOA? There’s also a issue here in that small breasted female characters are often negatively labelled as either too masculine i.e a man with boobs, or designed to appeal to the lolicon fanbase. Perhaps critics like Heldman and Sarkeesian should just let developers know what range of cup sizes is acceptable? As far as agency is concerned the fact is that all characters in gaming lack a certain degree of self-determination because of their role in driving the story and gameplay. Video game characters cannot have full agency because of the very nature of the medium, in that characters are CONTROLLED by the players and NPCs are props that assist the player in carrying forward the narratve.

The main thing that comes up in regard to female characters in video games is the issue of representation. Critics want female characters to be more like real life women, with realistic dimensions and proportions. However there are a great many women in real life that have big breasts and, due to implants and the rise in levels of obesity, that number is increasing. In the UK alone the average bra size has gone dramatically, increasing 3 cup sizes from 2010 to 2012. In the U.S the average bra size in 2013 was a DD cup. Women with large breasts are effectively being body shamed when they are told that female characters that share their proportions are offensive. Critics of video games are pretending that these women do not exist and as a consequence their voices are not being represented. This is an example of the recent trend of building some women up, but only at the expense of other women. That ‘I’m all about the bass don’t worry about your size unless you’re a skinny bitch’ mentality is harmful to all of us. These critics cannot have it both ways, if female video game characters are supposed to look like real women then it’s inevitable that some of them will have big breasts. Stop telling me that characters with breasts that look like mine are sexist ‘fuck toys’ and shouldn’t exist.

It is my opinion that assuming that big breasted characters are incapable of having any personality and reducing them to ‘fuck toys’ is, in itself, sexist and demeaning. It assumes that breast size and sexiness are the only things that the player notices or cares about in regard to female characters. Even worse is the assumption that this will make gamers sexist towards women in real life, a presumption that I find deeply patronising and insulting as a gamer. This morality policing of gaming has gotten out of hand. The vast majority of gamers are adults, let us decide for ourselves what we find acceptable. If more body types in gaming is what you want then stick to that instead of yet again promoting one kind of woman at the expense of another. Busty women are gamers too, some of us want to continue to see characters that look like us, deal with it.

Thanks for reading

Angela

 

 

 

 

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42 thoughts on “Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer, Getting Big Breasted Characters Off My Chest

  1. Thank you for that post, I enjoyed the read very much. You hit base with that. Games are an artform. This discussion reminds of the scandal that “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” from Manet produced in the late 19th century. These critics are looney, and their arguments are shallow and superficial. Makes me want to make a video series plus kickstarter about how underrepresented figurative and distingushable forms are in modern abstractionism. Let artists decide what they want to produce, it´s called artistic freedom. Stupid that many are so bigoted, and even put themselves on moral highground.

    Inspiring read. Keep on your good work! Much love!

  2. A friend just recommended this page for me
    You’re awesome and I loved your text
    You make some really good points I notice a dare lack of in traditional games journalism that cover these “issues”. Specially about games being about escapism.
    Would you mind sharing your twitter so I could follow you?

  3. nobody ever complains about the unrealistic proportions of men, or men as sex toys in these games (unless making a point like i am) but you will find that men and women are largely treated the same when it comes to over exaggerated physical proportions and provocative clothing. while i don’t really believe either sex merits complaints when it comes to character designs, i do feel that if you are going to complain about one sex being over sexualized then you should complain about both sexes. we are all on this big ship together and its about time we quit acting like its us against them when it comes to genders.

    great article by the way. this comment wasn’t really directed at you. just needed to blow off some steam.

  4. Definitely on point here! My main problem with ridiculous boobs in games is when the boobs are being waved in my face constantly when I’m trying to do just about everything else. I picked up Tera the other day, and the fact that there were a million gigantic, jiggling jugs around every corner made it impossible to take the game seriously. The attraction got in the way of aggression, and so it was a really weird combination where my mind and penis both didn’t know how to feel.

    Plus, the race of immortal little girls in that game is SUPER CREEPY. Total pedo-bait.

  5. Excellent! I was trying to find a way to express my own displeasure with this trend, but as a straight white male, I recognize I may not be the best one to convey that message, as my opinion is rightfully suspect.

  6. While I agree with what seems to be your main point–that busty people are people too–I feel like you’re missing a couple of pitfalls here. First you say “So what? We like looking at breasts.” If you take a moment to search for “consequences of objectification” (I don’t want to bombard you with links) you’ll see the “so what” about it. Second, you claim that our liking of breasts is innate, but if it were innate then it would be universal. All cultures may have a fondness for breasts, but not all cultures sexualize breasts (http://broadblogs.com/2010/11/04/men-aren%E2%80%99t-hard-wired-to-find-breasts-attractive/). Third, you yourself state that you’d like to see a greater variety–and that is, in fact, what is being called for by your fellow feminist gamers. No one is advocating an eradication of sexy women; we’re requesting variety. Fifth, you make the claim that the unbalanced treatment of the genders in games does not influence sexism, which you would have found is incorrect if you had looked up the research (here’s just one: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-009-9695-4#page-1). Sixth, you refer to these busty characters as representing “us” (you), but these characters are not realistically built–you are. We can go back to the excuse that it’s “fantasy” (and it’s not an unreasonable excuse, don’t get me wrong), but the fact remains that female sexualization and objectification FAR outpaces males. Far. Objectification is okay sometimes, fun sometimes, and unavoidable fairly regularly… but there is something to be said about the imbalance. When Doctor Caroline Heldman studied advertizing in 2010, she found that 96% of sexualized images were of female bodies. THAT is the problem.

    In summary, it’s not about eradicating fantasy. It’s about balance–both in representation within the female gender and between the two genders.

    1. “but the fact remains that female sexualization and objectification FAR outpaces males.”

      I’m sure the facts support this, but I would also note that male objectification is pretty prevalent, too. There’s hardly a single game I can think of that has a male character who is not at least quite muscular, if not ridiculously proportioned. Perhaps they are not sexualized, but they are still fantasies of a sort.

      1. I stated that objectification isn’t always bad and it’s certainly not 100% avoidable anyway; it’s about balance. I’m not sure what about “96% of sexually explicit images featuring female bodies” screams “male objectification is pretty prevalent” to you, but, regardless, I would never claim male objectification doesn’t happen. I know I objectify males sometimes. You make a good point about the male power fantasy that’s promoted through hulking bodies having its own damage, but I feel that’s a very separate issue from sexualizing and objectifying the female body.

      2. The critical part of that 96% statistic is going to be how the study defined objectification, seeing as how there are no labels on images that say “objectification” or otherwise. For male characters, while they may not all be wearing low-cut pants to show off their crotch, pretty much every male character in every game is unusually buff at the very least. When games make a physically strong male character, in order to stand out, he usually has to be enormous, because the entire cast is already buff. Think Barrett from FF7.

        Perhaps there is a kind of framing that worsens things beyond merely the depiction if unrealistic characters, and that is what the study complains about. I agree that some games go out of their way to shove tits in your face, but I’m curious to what degree this is different from depicting males in unreasonable ways all the time, as well.

      3. I believe it was focused on “sexualized” rather than “objectified.” I suppose you could argue that Barrett is non-sexually objectified? The hulking male trope is indeed something worth discussing, though I’m not sure that this is the place. Unless the point you’re trying to make is that portraying males as powerful may or may not be equal, in frequency, in how problematic it is, or both?

    2. what is really bad when you consider that 96% figure is that much of it is targeted at women instead of men. i dont remember the exact percentage but the majority (by a large percentage) of consumer spending is done by females (and a lot more done for females by their boyfriends/husbands) and the advertising aimed at women isnt as innocent as some would make it out to be. does this mean that most women prefer to see other women depicted in a sexualized manner, and why is this even a bad thing? sex is a part of life (for many it is a major part of life) that should not be ignored. i am also curious as to how ‘sexualized’ was defined in this study and was it used in an appropriate manner for both sexes. obviously this is an exageration but in the past just showing off your ankles (as a woman) was considered sexual. maybe if we all quit treating sex like it was taboo many of our problems would go away. looking at someone in a sexual manner does not mean you think of them as nothing but an object for sexual pleasure.

      1. I feel like you’ve neglected to stop and ask yourself why both men AND women are sold the idea that women are for looking at. Thank you for bringing up ankles–yes, there was a point in time where women’s bodies were so sexualized that we couldn’t show our ankles without it being a scandal. Currently, there are schools that tell girls “cover your shoulders; your body is sexualized to the point where your shoulders are a distraction to the boys.” Doesn’t that seem silly to you?

        I’m all for a sex-positive society. That starts with respecting women as whole people, I think. http://www.livescience.com/21806-brain-male-female-objectification.html

      2. just because we enjoy looking at women that doesnt mean we believe the sole purpose of women is to be looked at. we have all learned to view women as things of beauty like art. when i look at art i dont want to have sex with it but it does have an enjoyable affect on me and i would love to be able to look at beautiful art all of the time. unlike art, women are alive. they are people and every normal person is aware of that. there are certain aspects of men i enjoy looking at as well but i would never insist that the man im admiring is there for my pleasure. i would never say that those features on a man are the only thing of value the man has. a persons beauty is not a bad thing and shouldnt be treated as such when someone wants to look.

        as far as school dress codes go i think you need to be aware of 2 important facts.
        1) boys are subject to the same dress codes as girls.
        2) dress codes are in place more so that young people know h0w to dress appropriately rather than to keep them from looking too sexy. there is nothing worse than the person who thinks flip flops and shorts are professional attire. this person would never get hired. we rely increasingly on our schools to raise our children becuase parents are getting lazier every year.

        what i dont understand is why girls (not all girls of course) take this as an attack and challenge the dress code every chance they get but boys rarely seem to have a problem. ‘im too hot and i shouldnt have to wear all these clothes’ is a common complaint from girls during the hotter months of the year but boys have no problems at all wearing ‘all these clothes’ when they are hot. why is it so hard to accept simple rules? not everything is in place to hold women back.

      3. I try and avoid using this particular word, but you honestly seem to be stuck in a very “privileged” perspective here. Yes, we have learned to view women as art. Women are for looking at. I’m sure we’re getting better at viewing women as MORE than something to look at too, and, in the same vein, there’s nothing wrong with appreciating beauty. To acknowledge an imbalance and then dismiss it as just a part of life in the face of centuries of oppression is where you lose me.

        Girls aren’t attacking the dress code for the sake of it–they’re attacking the notion that 1) their bodies are so sexualized that their shoulders are a problem and 2) males are slaves to their baser instincts. If the message were “Let’s all dress more professionally for school” that would be one thing, but the message is blatantly “Your body is too sexualized for the boys to control themselves.”

        I’m sure I won’t convince you, but I wanted to put up a response for posterity. I really do hope, though, that you’ll continue to look into the disparity between how the genders are sexualized and how that negatively affects both genders. It’s an issue. It’s an issue that’s easy to find information on. The negative effects are well-documented. If you ask it of me, I would be more than happy to provide you with as many published research articles and studies as you’d like. And, again, that isn’t to say it’s wrong to enjoy beauty, and I hope we both strive for a sex-positive society. There’s simply something to be said for balance.

    3. Every human being is also a sexual being. Objectification is a buzzword with negative conotation and that is fails completely when we are talking about everything else than personal relationships. I am a man, and have been objectified by women. There were times women I was in love with gave me the feeling that I was nothing more than my muscle, dick and wallet.

      On the other hand, my S.O. loved it when I aknowledged her feminine traits by long and dirty sexy-times. That being said, it can cause serious relationship issues when a man does not sexually objectifies his spouse.

      Sexual objectification is not necessarlily a bad thing, because we can´t get around it. It is part of our existence.

      1. I’ll copy/paste for you the comment that maybe you missed? Or maybe you’re just re-stating part of my comment in an effort to agree with me; I’m unsure. Here: “Objectification is okay sometimes, fun sometimes, and unavoidable fairly regularly… but there is something to be said about the imbalance. When Doctor Caroline Heldman studied advertizing in 2010, she found that 96% of sexualized images were of female bodies. THAT is the problem.”

    4. Breast fetishism DOES appear in cross cultural data. Your link didn’t prove what it claimed it did. It essentially argued “In some cultures, women don’t cover their breasts, therefore they don’t have a breast fetish.”

      Another argument we could make along these lines:

      In some cultures, people do not wear clothes. Therefore, these cultures do not consider the human body sexually attractive.

      Obviously ridiculous.

      Another problem with your argument, “If it were innate, it would be universal.” No. Eye color, for example.

      I don’t really agree with the OP’s argument, which I’ll address in another comment, but this specific claim about biology is incorrect. And perhaps the most obvious line of evidence about the evolutionary history of breast fetishism is the fact that most mammals don’t even HAVE permanently enlarged breasts. They serve literally no function EXCEPT whatever aesthetic value they are assigned, whether that be by the individual, the observer, or society.

      So, much like the peacock’s tail, they must have been propagated because they were successful at attracting mates in ancestral females.

  7. The American (and to a lesser extent the Western) conversation surrounding female characters in video games revolves around breast size, “sexualization,” “representation” and whether they are “strong,” i.e. whether they don’t need no man and project the correct feminist values (nobody cares about characterization beyond that). Characters aren’t characters, they are symbols. Symbols for oppression and misogyny, or symbols for “empowerment” and feminism. As such, they should properly “represent” all of womankind and serve as “role models” for girls and make them feel “included.” They should also closely reflect the player so that she may successfully “identify” with the character. On the other hand, the mostly male developers keep making mostly male characters–very generic ones at that–because they too think that they and the game’s presumed audience must be able to “identify” with the character. On 4chan you can find almost every day a thread with 300-500 replies where people debate whether it’s appropriate for a man to play as a female character (play as a girl? You’re not gay, are you?). What everyone is looking for is something that’ll affirm either their sense of identity or their political agenda, or both (the difference between the two vanishes once you introduce “identity politics” into the mix). This is the hopeless, laughable situation that people have chosen for themselves, and it’s unlikely to ever change.

    1. That’s fine, it’s a personal preference and you don’t have to play the games if you don’t like the character design or art style. However the idea being promoted is that characters having big breasts is inherently sexist and I don’t believe that it is.

      1. I have never seen anyone promote the idea that big breasted characters are inherently sexist. I think you’re misinterpreting the issue, and I’ll state again–it’s balance. You could argue that hypersexualizing a fantasy female by giving her unrealistic proportions in order to make her visually stimulating to males is sexist, but that goes beyond big breasts. Excuse my bluntness–you’re a beautiful woman–but a character designed with your proportions, big bust and all, would not make it on anyone’s radar as a sexist representation. In fact, if you were a game character I’m confident you would be celebrated.

        You’re too caught up on the boobs, lady. The boobs are not the problem. The proportions are a problem, but the imbalance is the number one issue.

  8. I 100% agree with what bubblerapper is saying. The issue is not the large breasts of the female characters, but their overall aesthetics. I can confidently say that I have never seen a person in real life look like these characters that are being referenced. They have unrealistic body proportions, dare I say, overtly sexual body proportions? Their clothing is also extremely revealing. I also understand that male characters can also be portrayed this way, but let’s talk about proportions. The representation of sexualized or unrealistic female characters far outweigh their male counterparts. I really don’t know how you can argue otherwise.

  9. Female characters shouldn’t have to be shapeless and conservatively dressed, but it would also be nice to have more characters with realistic body shapes that don’t look like they’re constantly about to fall out of their dress. It’s all about balance and while realistic female characters are heavily outnumbered by unrealistic representations, more so than male characters, I believe that posts like these are counterproductive for women that want a more balanced representation of their gender/sex.

  10. Confession: I never noticed any of McIntosh/Sarkeesian’s attributed tropes before seeing their Feminist Frequency series.

    Feminist Frequency objectifies the characters themselves by slapping on these “tropes”.

    1. Okay, I said I’d address my disagreement with the point, & mostly it comes down to the fact that this:

      “There seems to be an idea among critics of video games that female characters cannot be strong, well developed, kickass women if they have big breasts.”

      …Is a strawman. The Fighting Fuck Toy blog does NOT ONLY cite sexuality as a criteria, it also notes that the characters are flat & make the character vaguely “badass” to cover it. In other words, the hope is that they can design a character just to titillate the audience while tricking critics into thinking the character is progressive by making them do stereotypical action things to cover for the lack of, well, character.

      I should note here that this does not really fit Lulu at all. She is not an action protagonist. She is a rather quiet, reserved (but serious & mature) Black Mage. While the game does indulge in a few cleavage shots, it focuses primarily on her personality. She is, for the most part, a developed character who just so happens to look a certain way.

      She would not fit these criteria, though a lot of people would probably still argue that she’s oversexualized. The problem I have with Lulu is that it looks to me like, if you removed her dress, she’d have these massive boobs & a sticklike body. She tops Tifa, whose official measurements (yes, Square released official measurements for Tifa Lockhart, moving on) are unlikely, but at least still healthy.

      So what’s the problem with that? Well, what’s the GOOD thing? I don’t see the artistic merit in using “sex sells” as a rationale for character design, as a man I don’t see the appeal of unhealthy proportions or a character whose every action seems to be a desperate attempt to make me think about sex, & apparently a lot of women don’t either.

      The representation argument is usually used when the person is UNDER-represented in media. Is that really the case with large breasted women in videogames? I’ll grant you, cup sizes in excess of E do exist, but they’re relatively uncommon. Meanwhile, look how easy of a time the author had finding examples of that in popular videogame franchises.

      Not to mention that I don’t see what that argument, the argument about lesbians liking large breasts in videogames, & large breasts serving as a power fantasy really prove EVEN IF they’re all true. How does the existence of a periphery demographic mean that the Fighting Fuck Toy does not exist? And no offense, but what does, “Well, I like it” really prove? If someone said that they hate all of the characters used as examples, would that change anyone’s view of the characters at all? So why would it work in reverse?

      1. But is this actually an illogical argument? F.F. cites sexuality as inherently negative and dismisses any characters with big breasts as either mere objects or F.F.Ts if they are physically strong. What Angela appears to be saying is that the analysis of F.F.T.’s and characters labelled such is irrelevant and superficial and often a generalization. Big breasts = F.F.T. or object.

        Although correct that the F.F.T. includes the character’s narrative quality, the fact remains that F.F. and many critics like them immediately label characters something before even looking at their narrative quality. Recently, F.F. published their newest “positive” character example video and named Beyond Good and Evil’s character Jade positive because of her narrative quality – but Sarkeesian STILL (albeit casually) criticized Jade’s midriff, because in F.F.’s perspective, the appearance of character (female ones anyways) is linked with her narrative quality – other “positive” examples include (mostly) blocks, groups of pixels and other characters lacking sexual characteristics common in (and commonly attributed to) women.

        Additionally, F.F.’s choice in perpetrators of this trope are ignorant themselves. Some titles implement sexuality as easy marketing. Fighting games are probably the best examples (because fighting games often don’t focus on the game’s narrative structure) but even saying that, backstory or personality may account for some decisions made by designers in choosing one costume over another.

        Bayonetta, for example, is not a F.F.T. Granted, the game itself is quite ridiculous both in Bayonetta’s costume design and narrative qualities – but remember that the development team also created Devil May Cry. Each franchise is ridiculous in it’s own way. But F.F. continually dismisses Bayonetta’s character simply because she gets naked and cameras focus on her rear.

        Criticism is important to helping improve industries (particularly the entertainment industry) but I think more people influencing opinion and perceptions need to be conscientious of other aspects than their personal preferences.

        I mean, I’m not expecting some grand revelation here. I’m sure you are convicted and I’ll receive a lengthy response, but I’m only replying because many people miss one critical thing when analyzing characters…some writer’s aren’t good or can’t communicate ideas well or perhaps they communicate them far more subtly than audiences can interpret. A bad character is often a bad character, simple. But characters may be deeper than they initially seem and dismissing them as F.F.T.’s or other ridiculous labels misses the entire point of SOME characters (no, I’m not saying that every half-naked character is quality) and some creative works.

        Again, I’m not saying that (and Angela is not saying that) F.F.T.’s don’t exist, but that you can’t generalize. F.F. implies in it’s analysis of particular characters that breast-size and/or clothing style matters more. As far as I’m concerned, that’s more telling of society than actually having these characters.

      2. “But is this actually an illogical argument?”

        Whose argument? Mine? Angela’s? FFT’s?

        “F.F. cites sexuality as inherently negative and dismisses any characters with big breasts as either mere objects or F.F.Ts if they are physically strong.”

        That’s what you’re saying FFT is saying, but I am not convinced that the blog actually said that.

        “but Sarkeesian STILL (albeit casually) criticized Jade’s midriff, because in F.F.’s perspective, the appearance of character (female ones anyways) is linked with her narrative quality – other “positive” examples include (mostly) blocks, groups of pixels and other characters lacking sexual characteristics common in (and commonly attributed to) women.”

        I tend to get the sense that it doesn’t really matter what she says, it can & will be used against her. Had she not referenced the midriff, I guarantee you that it would be added to the ever-growing list of her “hypocrisies.”

        Actually, I now see that you wrote another comment on the subject that I ignored because I didn’t want to get into a bunch of arguments at the same time, but since I’m now talking to you anyway, I think “FF objectifies the characters by slapping these tropes on them” is highly erroneous. The Tropes existed whether you were aware of them or not. Like the person who coined the term “Smurfette Principle” (not Anita, incidentally) did not magically change the cast of the Smurfs, or any other series that only has 1 or 2 female protagonists.

        “Additionally, F.F.’s choice in perpetrators of this trope are ignorant themselves. Some titles implement sexuality as easy marketing. Fighting games are probably the best examples (because fighting games often don’t focus on the game’s narrative structure) but even saying that, backstory or personality may account for some decisions made by designers in choosing one costume over another. Bayonetta, for example, is not a F.F.T.”

        Marketing doesn’t exclude the character from being an FFT, in fact that’s kind of a major component of the thesis: The character exists to titillate, presumably with the assumption that more people will buy the game. I always find arguments like “the character’s personality or background justifies it” because the same people designing the outfit are making up these details. And I don’t believe for a second that Bayonetta doesn’t count.

        “Criticism is important to helping improve industries (particularly the entertainment industry) but I think more people influencing opinion and perceptions need to be conscientious of other aspects than their personal preferences.”

        No offense, but personal preference is really what this page looks like to me. “I enjoy these characters, therefore they can’t be FFTs.”
        .

        “Again, I’m not saying that (and Angela is not saying that) F.F.T.’s don’t exist, but that you can’t generalize.”

        Firstly, the problem with the generalization complaint is that there is a very big difference between trying to find a pattern versus doing a case study on a specific example. I would only really complain about the “context” of an example if it actually established the opposite of a person’s thesis.

        As for the other thing, Angela might not say that outright, but I cannot think of any situation in which I cannot use 1 of her arguments to claim that a character is not an FFT. But FFT gives some pretty clear criteria: Flat character, oversexualized, action-centric.

        Well, I suppose that if I wanted to, I COULD be anal-retentive enough to claim that about any character. But I think it would be a much greater stretch if I claimed that Jade is an FFT than if I claimed that somewhere out there, there are at least a few women who think that “Dead Or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball” was pretty much made for them.

    2. Sorry about the double response, but it looks like I can’t edit: Did I write my first comment in response to you after all? Because it looks like I did, but that wasn’t what I was trying to do when I wrote it.

  11. I am not a Feminist. But I love Feminists like you who are actually reasonable. A very good read, even if it’s what I already was thinking myself and have been thinking since way this whole ” controversy ” started. It’s nice to see that there’s Feminists out there who actually stop to think a little rather than just REACT.

    1. Don’t you think it’s pretty ironic to accuse people of “not stopping to think” in the same breath that you say the OP is “actually reasonable” because she agrees with what you “already [were] thinking” since the beginning?

  12. The problem is that, as a grown woman with a 34AA cup, my size is almost -never- represented, whereas large breasts are everywhere.

    Smaller-breasted women are often portrayed as teenagers who magically develop bowling-ball sized assets the minute they hit 18. They often whine and cry over having small breasts. Male characters ignore them or tease them. The message is clear: if you don’t have even a B-cup, you should feel deep shame and seek out padding or surgery. This is kind of an ugly chord to play in today’s tolerant culture.

    I would love to see smaller breasted adult female characters who are comfortable in their own bodies. “Sex sells” someone cries, but guess what? Small women can be sexy without a “pedo” vibe. I’m tired of the stigma that a woman cannot be feminine unless she has pendulous breasts.

    Just offering perspective from the other, often ignored, end of the spectrum.

    1. My wife has small breasts, and without going into details, let’s just say I have no problem with them =) But that doesn’t mean I don’t like seeing big boobs running around in video games. It’s fantasy, not reality, and that’s a REALLY important thing that people who criticize depiction of women in video games frequently ignore. There is a comparable amount to complain about when it comes to depiction of men on TV; every one of them is a strapping young lad with a perfect 6 pack.

      It’s fiction, it’s entertainment, it’s fantasy. No one ought to feel bad for depicting the people they want to depict. Anyone with a good sense of distinguishing reality from fantasy ought to be able to recognize that not every woman has huge breasts.

      1. Nobody is “ignoring” that it’s fiction, it’s just that this is usually irrelevant to the point & used to side-step it.

        “It’s fiction” does not address the question of whether the characters are over-sexualized &/or under-developed. Nor does it address Jessica’s complaint that there aren’t enough positive small-breasted adult characters.

        “The artist can do whatever they want” doesn’t address the question of whether or not they should, or if the art has certain weaknesses that should be criticized.

        Talking points about “people who can distinguish reality from fantasy” doesn’t somehow invalidate the data that shows that fiction DOES affect people’s attitudes.

        And most people who make this criticism are aware that male characters aren’t exactly flawless either, but if you only bring it up in some kind of “stop talking about the females” kind of way, you’re being disingenuous.

        One final thing: You could easily be saying this all to the blog owner. Something like, “Why would you identify with large breasted characters? They’re not real, you’re being ridiculous.” Why does it seem that the arguments that are somehow “wrong” when used to criticize objectification, are suddenly okay when they’re insisting that everything is fine, or if anything, the characters should be bustier?

    2. I honestly as a large breasted teen understand but on a different side of the spectrum. Most girls in my class aren’t past an A cup and they talk some major crap about girls like me who have D and up. I remember last day of middle school. I went up to my locker and there was a badly drawn cow with large utters on the front of it. Where I am the experience was always, “You should strive for smaller breast or else you look like a whore.” kinda situations. I agree there should be smaller breasted women to make the spectrum more broad but I think she was trying to address the negativity that gets thrown at large breasted women since people say that their only sex objects.

  13. Big boobs = Real girls , small boobs= cry babies feminist . I pity all this low life flat chest , kitchen slaves haha

  14. I thank you as a big breasted teenager for this article. In middle school we had this club for female gamers to talk a games but all the girls in there was body shame girls with bust sizes C or more. I’m only 14 3/4 and I already have 33DDs and according to my doctor their going to keep growing. I often don’t let it get under my skin but I’m skinny (I have a hard time gaining weight) and seeing video game characters who have my proportions shamed makes me sometimes look at myself and compare my bust to girls who have much smaller ones and think “Am I supposed to be that small, are these boobs abnormal?” I would ask my mom but she wouldn’t understand since she only got my bust size in her 20s. This article is a confidence booster and I thank you for writing it. :3

  15. HEY! Lulu was hot! Don’t be dissin’ on my girl xD Honestly though, I get what you’re saying. But you have to remember, a lot of games are aimed at dudes. I may be married, but men are pigs. End of story 😛

    But I don’t mind it honestly. I play games according to my own “characters” that I create for RPG’s or what have you. I don’t care about the assets, she needs to be badass. Be able to kick ass and not take shit. *points at femshep* THAT is what I want. In every game. Bioware has ruined me T^T

  16. Weak girls always bitching and moaning about a non real girls , a virtual girls hahaha , nobody ever complains about the unrealistic proportions of men, or men as sex toys in these games (unless making a point like i am) but you will find that men and women are largely treated the same when it comes to over exaggerated physical proportions and provocative clothing. while i don’t really believe either sex merits complaints when it comes to character designs, i do feel that if you are going to complain about one sex being over sexualized then you should complain about both sexes. we are all on this big ship together and its about time we quit acting like its us against them when it comes to genders.

    Stop bitching and moaning and make us a sandwitch.

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