The Sexist

The Morning After: Phallic First-Person Shooter Edition

* Attention feminist nerds: "Portal," the first-person shooter that Games Radar described as "the most subversive game ever," is being offered for free until May 24. What Portal is not like:

The gun is typically regarded as a phallic symbol of masculine agency, through which power is won and maintained. In any first-person shooter, a power dynamic is reinforced between subject (the player's subjective sense of self) and object (the rest of the game world.) The player is forced to accept militarism and conquest by violence, historically masculine behaviors, as the only course of action. To play a first-person shooter is to enter into a context in which only the male perspective exists, regardless of the gender of the character or player.

The playable characters in first-person shooters are almost always men. In the rare event that a female character is playable, she serves as an object of male fantasy and her interactions with the game world are still forced through the male-oriented lens described in the previous paragraph. Interestingly, playable female characters are usually presented in third-person action games (think Lara Croft) — again reinforcing a visual power dynamic that in this case furthers the objectification of the female form by a predominantly male audience. Rather than the player assuming the identity of the heroine, she becomes a controllable other.

* Also available: Not the most subversive game ever! In "Privates," the "first twin-stick shooter set in a vagina," condom-hatted Marines take aim at infections, infestations, and ingrown hairs.

*Geek Feminism asks what a feminist social network would look like.

* Broadsheet interviews the man who created the "marriage saving" anti-flatulence blanket. He's awesome!:

I bow-hunt for deer, and to do that you have to get really close to them, close enough that they can smell you. They’re pretty sensitive. So I started buying these military surplus chemical protective suits, from the army surplus store to block my odor. One time, I noticed that if I passed wind in there you couldn't smell a thing. And a light bulb went off. I took a couple of the suits, cut them into pieces, sewed them together and made a blanket. My wife and I used it in our bed for years, and it was great. Fifteen years later I made the first prototype and had a number of them produced.

* Sexuality and Society has more on Marquette's canning of a lesbian sociology professor: "So if O’Brien wasn’t disqualified because she is gay, per se, what is 'really' going on? Maybe it’s just the sort of gay she is, the sort who likes to talk openly about sexuality, and moreover to discuss it critically within the context of social institutions such as religion and family."

Photo by randy.troppmann, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • Mike

    I take exception to, "accept militarism and conquest by violence, historically masculine behaviors, as the only course of action." Israel has had a female Prime Minister, Golda Meir. Didn’t the Yom Kippur War occur under her watch? Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the UK. Anybody remember the Falkland War? Indria Gandhai was Prime Minister of India, where she presided over a war with Pakistan, and later, a State of Emergency.The notion that the world would be a better place if women were in charge, or are less belligerent then men is a fallacy. Anyone remember Condoleezza Rice? All you have to do is just watch, or watch all of the girl fights on youtube to know that. If I was a misogynist, or chauvinist, I could make the argument that women are more emotional thereby making them prone to act irrationally, while men are more levelheaded. When its that time of the month, who would you want to have the ability to puch the button?

  • Katie

    @Mike: I think what you said about women on their periods being ineffective/emotional leaders was meant to prove a point and not as something you actually believe, so I'm overlooking that part. I agree that it's silly to say that women in charge necessarily means a more peaceful world, because that's just sexist - that relies on a notion of women as meek, timid, nurturing, etc. Different individuals govern differently, regardless of sex/gender. BUT I do think it's a little silly to say that women leaders have a history of violence - there have been VERY few females in true positions of national leadership throughout history. And even sillier to point out whatever "girl fights" on youtube you're talking about. Just like you can't infer that women would be better leaders because there are some awfully nice moms out there, you can't infer that women would be violent leaders because you saw a video one time on youtube where these two chicks were, like, totally going at it.

    I will say, though, that I did my undergrad thesis on international military aggression as it relates to gender equity at the national level. Regardless of the sex of the nation's leaders, nations with higher levels of gender equity (measured by fertility rates, levels of education, ratios of women in parliament, etc) were much less likely to engage in aggressive military conflicts with other nations. And when they did engage in "conflicts," gender-equitable nations were likely to pursue actions of a more humanitarian/assistant nature. So there is something to be said for how gender roles/equality relate to aggression, if not necessarily in the context of top-level leadership.

  • Mike

    I was just being facetious about the time of the month, just to clarify.

  • Flutterby

    Holy shit! Portal! Free! Fuck yeah! *downloads*

    Oh, er, right. Feminism. Um, down with the patriarchy!

  • Lisa

    Uh, Mirror's Edge anyone?

  • hn

    Portal came first though…

    I noticed that /everyone/ in Portal seems to be female. GlaDOS tells you, for instance: "Remember: bring your daughter to work day is the perfect opportunity to have her tested." and "Did you know employees can donate some or all of their vital organs to the Aperture Science Self-Esteem Fund for Girls?".