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From an article by Glosswitch published on the New Statesman.
“The underlying thought behind sex-positive feminism is conservative and unimaginative, fearing a sexless void should patriarchy ever vacate the space it currently fills. And yet the truth is, those who question objectification aren’t afraid of fucking. They are not the swooning, pearl-clutching prudes dreamed up by misogynists and sex positive feminists alike. They’re just taking sex positivity one step further, by recognising that no one’s choices are made in a vacuum but that everyone needs to be respected as an autonomous sexual being. That includes you, but it includes me too, and it also includes billions of others. This is where things get complicated. It’s not all about you. It’s not all about me, either. We need a world which accommodates our differences but to create this requires a fundamental change in the whole context of sexual choices.
Let us be clear: feminism is out to screw patriarchy. It’s not there to be wheedling and apologetic. It’s not there to teach women to cope with life as subordinates. It’s not there to promote a chirpy, can-do response to a cat-call, a hand on the arse, a tongue down the throat, an unwanted grope or a rape. And if you’re thinking “all this sounds a bit judgmental,” I do understand. I know words like “patriarchy” and “male dominance” make people feel uncomfortable (I’d call it “feminismphobia” if it wasn’t time we stopped pathologising dissent). I know some women have a deep-rooted fear of how feminism could change their sexual landscape. To support something which is ultimately for everyone – but not specifically for you – is difficult, but feminism is not about misusing words (empowerment, choice, freedom) to cover up the things we don’t want to see. We’re here to knock down the entire edifice, not repaint the walls.”
Boom! Boom! – Shots Fired.
Let it be said up front that this cranky second waver bears no animus with regards to hamsters, electric vehicles, or dancing. Yet, once these elements are mixed into the toxic soup of everyone’s favourite capitalistic patriarchal construct – better known as ‘our society’ – hilarity is bound to ensue.
The advertisement in whole, before we begin.
This commercial is about selling cars. (Duh!) But who is the target audience? (if you thought hamsters, please leave now there are places better suited for your attentions). Let’s break this down and take a look at the characters.
Science Hamster #1 – Red bow-tie, suspenders.
Science Hamster#2 – Red bow-tie, red glasses and polka dot shirt.
Science Hamster#3 – Rasta hat, white shirt.
Female Hamster in Ball – Brown and cute. Context wise we don’t know the ball hamster is female, but with time spent on establishing a connection one could assume.
We’re 10 seconds into the commercial and what do we have here – 3 male represented characters creating, designing, and actively teching out with all sorts of futuristic displays and machinery. The female role, to smiled and waved at; the unsurprising passive receptacle for male attentions.
Audio note – “Baby I’m preying on you tonight. Hunt you down eat you alive,. Just like animals (x2). Ah yes because the predator/prey relationship is so sexy, and filled with equality too!
Well nothing new here under the sun so far, but as with most patriarchal adventures it gets worse the farther you go. Our intrepid female hamster gets herself into a jam by wheeling her ball into the experimental area and is zapped along with the vehicle by the transmogrifying beams of science.
Our first glimpse of her portents much of what is to come. Disembodied woman parts with feminine signifiers for the winz!
The requisite Male gaze.
And after a full body pan, we as viewers to get to experience the male gaze. Just some reinforcement in case you missed the objectification the first time around.
Now that we have primed the audience for sexual objectification, lets use it to sell the damn car!
Where is the female empowerment (do tell my Third Wave friends)?!? Oh wait the power of love. How charmingly original for a female character (do contrast this with the creator, the scientist, the engineer).
Oh, dudes like their technology more than any single vampy female. Let’s get a shot of her looking flummoxed so we can reiterate the “female body selling car” angle again. We do remember the advertising truism – the sexual objectification of women sells.
Our intrepid dudes roll to the nearest pet store to ‘pick up some chicks’. Consider the perceived power differential – the dudes looming over a cage of helpless females – and of course the anvilicious buying of women for happy fun sexy times.
So cue more science and boom! Let the female empowerment roar while striking sexy poses for dudes (science and/or otherwise)!
Recently bough females remarkable receptive to their buyers, with nuzzling and other overt signs of
female powah affection.
Cue the formation dancing with of course, our protagonists front and centre, we must never forget the centrality of the man and his power.
And thus endeth the analysis.
Going through this post made me think of all the conversations, mostly with men, about how we don’t need feminism anymore because we are an equal society now thus there is no use for feminism or feminist analysis. This was a cute commercial until you actually look at the underlying patriarchal messages that surprisingly happen to dovetail nicely how society perceives, and thus, how society treats women in 2014.
You could knock me over with a feather given how surprised I am about the level of misogyny present in our media.
As always, IBTP.
Patriarchy pissing in the punchbowl for hundreds of years continues to make things crappy, even in the land of video games.
Seems like we have a bit of feminist theme going on here this week – quelle suprise! Harassment and how women and men are taught to exist in society. If we can edumacate a few dudes about the toxic patriarchal soup we all swim in the world will be a better place.
“A male friend of mine that develops AAA games told me, “When a woman criticizes me, it goes to a different part of my brain than when a man on my team does. I get defensive really quickly. I’m trying to get better about it.” I don’t think his is a unique experience.
We live in a society that’s sexist in ways it doesn’t understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. I think it threatens them in a very primal way, and male privilege makes them feel free to lash out.
This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it.”
Sooooo… experiences are different for women in the game industry who would of thunk? Might it be because women and men are socialized differently and are taught to respond differently to situations? Might one set of strategies be beholden to the other, thus reinforcing the disparity? Food for thought -
The highly quotable Margaret Atwood clarifies the idea:
“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”
Part of the reason why feminist analysis is such a valuable tool is that FA deconstructs and identifies the constructed norms of society and rightly points out how craptacular said norms are for women.
So, dudes, a glimpse into the faux-egalitarian society you’ve created and learn the implied lesson of “don’t be that guy” – thanks in advance for being a better person.
Oh, hey did you need more evidence of the power imbalance in society? Take a look at the comments section and count how many responses with the motif : If you dress a certain way you are asking for it.
How reading ytube comments makes me feel:
Nice of Deep Green Resistance to illustrate what Patriarchy is for women.
“Female socialization in patriarchy is a process of psychologically constraining and breaking girls—otherwise known as “grooming”—to create a class of compliant victims. Femininity is a set of behaviors that are, in essence, ritualized submission.
We see nothing in the creation of gender to celebrate or embrace. Patriarchy is a corrupt and brutal arrangement of power, and we want to see it dismantled so that the category of gender no longer exists.
… Patriarchy facilitates the mining of female bodies for the benefit of men – for male sexual gratification, for cheap labor, and for reproduction. To take but one example, there are entire villages in India where all the women only have one kidney. Why? Because their husbands have sold the other one. Gender is not a feeling—it’s a human rights abuse against an entire class of people, “people called women.”