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COTB 003 – On Sexism in Comics and Mass Effect 3 ending, posted by Benjamin

Carlos and BJ discuss various forms of sexism in geek culture including comics, video games, and professional competitive gaming. Finally they discuss the ending of Mass Effect 3 and all the drama surrounding this fan reaction.

[Edit from CJ: And a friend mentioned we might want to mention a trigger warning, which is a good idea and I apologize for not doing so in the first place. We do talk about violence against women, including sexual violence.]


  1. Notes from BJ:

    Better Business Bureau comment on the Mass Effect 3 ending.

    Casey Hudson interview where he states it won’t be an “ABC” ending.

    Posted on 19-Apr-12 at 11:47 pm | Permalink
  2. I’ll be making a separate post with links discussing sexism in comics in the next few days.

    Posted on 20-Apr-12 at 12:05 am | Permalink
  3. From some feedback it seems like people might be interested in links to a few things before I finish that post I’m working on. ^_^

    Here’s what if the male avengers posed like the Black Widow, if male superheroes posed like Wonder Woman, and a Why does this female superhero pose keep happening? thread.

    Also, here are some Kickstarter things to check out, in order of how soon they’re ending. If they’re complete, they will probably be sold at large soon and are definitely worth looking at.

    The Banner Saga, Viking strategy game goodness.

    Shadowrun Returns, a remake and I suspect beginning of a wider relaunch for an awesome game.

    Best Friends Forever, an apocalyptic feature film that is sooooo close to being funded it’s painful

    Witch Girls Book of Shadows, aimed at bringing the underserved young women demographic to RPGs- but also note that I’ve seen plenty of men say they want to play it as well

    Midgard Tales, 13 Adventures for Pathfinder by Open Design with lead Christina Stiles, and it will be terrific.

    And a complete project, Womanthology, which I’m sorry I missed funding for, but you can still purchase from several places online.

    Posted on 20-Apr-12 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  4. Sarah

    I don’t read comics, but I am an avid gamer and a woman. I couldn’t agree more with the points you guys made about how women are depicted in geek media. While I don’t mind having attractive female characters in a game (Mass Effect, Uncharted, and the Assassin’s Creed series being three series off the top of my head where the male protagonists are very attractive), the expectation for them to wear revealing clothing and have an unattainable physique becomes exasperating.

    I’m glad that Mass Effect was brought up during this segment, because the series is very split in its portrayal of women. On the one hand, Commander Shepard’s gender is practically a non-issue throughout the games, with very few dialogue differences between a female character and male character. Ashley Williams in ME1 is not conventionally beautiful, which fits her just fine as she is meant to be a soldier first and foremost. On the other hand, there is a race comprised entirely of blue space babes, the new female characters introduced in ME2 wore incredibly revealing outfits, and in ME3 Ashley gets a makeover with a blowout, makeup, and huge boobs. While none of these things ruin my enjoyment of the games, they do make me acutely aware that I am not the one being marketed to, and it’s discomfiting. This blog post highlights exactly how ridiculous these costumes are.

    Contrast this with a series like Uncharted. While the games have their own issues, one thing I really, really liked was that Elena and Chloe actually looked like real women. They wore clothing that was actually practical. They were obviously intended to be romantic interests, but neither felt limited to that role. Both women were perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and acted like real people. While the Uncharted games aren’t perfect, their portrayal of women is far more positive than most other games I have played.

    What bothers me more than the rampant objectification of women in many games, however, is the attitude that so many male gamers share about females. I hate, HATE playing multiplayer games without a party full of people from my friends list, because so often I end up getting verbally attacked and sexually harassed for being a woman. If I’m playing poorly in a match, it’s because I’m a woman. If I’m playing really well, it’s because I’m a cheating whore who uses broken weapons. If I’m average, but my team wins, I’m still a loser because my male teammates did all the work for me. It’s why I won’t play CoD or any other FPS games in any situation other than a LAN party or something of that sort, where there will be no chance of getting harassed. It’s easy for people to say to me, “Just ignore them, I don’t see why you refuse to play a game just because of a bit of name-calling!” but honestly, when people make personal attacks and say hateful things just because I’m not a man, the game simply isn’t fun anymore. There is absolutely no excuse for this behavior, and more people need to take a stand against it.

    Sorry if this comes off as ranty or rambling, the podcast just hit a nerve. Glad you guys chose this as a topic; it’s nice to know that there are men who think the portrayal of women in games and comics is ridiculous.

    Posted on 22-Apr-12 at 11:40 am | Permalink
  5. Thanks, Sarah! I think your comment was terrific. We most definitely appreciate your perspective.

    From what you and other folks say, playing in a multiplayer game when other people know you’re a female, especially in pick-up-groups, can be awful.

    Posted on 23-Apr-12 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
  6. Derek

    Sarah: Comments like “Just ignore it” are the worst response. Because that implies that it’s okay to do, and translates as “suck it up, get over it, it’s not important.” You’re well within your rights to say “No, this isn’t okay, shut it.” Not that it works on them – that’s why you mute them, and report them. All the guys I play with report those sorts every time they go off on female gamers, and you have to hope it helps….

    Posted on 17-May-12 at 12:30 pm | Permalink
  7. Derek

    I do, in fact, have a basement.

    And within that basement, I have a wall of cabinets (they were built-in when we moved in), several of which are full of board games (primarily stuff like Catan, Carcassone, Monopoly, etc – what I’d consider more mainstream games), comics, books, and video games I don’t play much.

    Apart from that, we have large room that would be ideal for a game room, but it currently exists primarily as the room the kids ride their bikes in during the winter. ;)

    And regarding the sexism discussion – it’s all over the place. My Xbox Live clan has a few girls in the clan, and it’s horrifying when we join games. We play 95% shooters (Halo, Call of Duty, etc), so we get the stereotypical XBL people, but JESUS. Within a minute of joining, the randoms are immediately focused on her, to the point that several members of the clan have had to jump in to smack them down (to be clear: Both of them are well able to hold their own, but when it’s 8 voices against 1, it gets absurd). At least one of the members joined the clan specifically because she was fed up with the harassment. She pointed us to a site called something like Slut, Ugly, or dumb (I forget the actual site) that is basically a collection of messages female gamers have received. It’s saddening.

    Posted on 17-May-12 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  8. Ellie

    Posted on 04-Jun-12 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

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