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Mireleni
09.14.2013 , 02:50 AM | #6
I hear you. Sure, this same situation could have been played out with a man--that is, a "someone shut this guy up" option, where the man gets pistol-whipped. But it's not--it's a woman. Now, I know there are plenty of places elsewhere in the game where players are given the option to smack/torture both male and female NPCs. But consider the following:
1) This is a mission that most players will repeat many times, and it is necessarily multiplayer. If it were a one-time quest suitable for solo play, someone might chuckle (if they were so inclined), move on, and forget about it. The repeatability allows the negative behavior to grow and turn into habit. The multiplayer aspect allows like-minded players to feed off of each other, and pulls along with them even those who disagree. The prominence of this conversation makes it problematic.
2) This game was not released into a vacuum. It was released into a culture in which violence against women, by men, is a huge problem (while the reverse happens as well, it is much less common). It was released into a video gaming culture with a terrible reputation for treatment of women--as characters in the games, as players, and as industry professionals. I'm sure I don't need to get into that here. Because of this culture, the violence displayed here against a female character is going to be interpreted differently, and it is going to be more damaging than a similar situation played out with a male character. A man gets pistol whipped, people may laugh. A woman gets pistol whipped, people may laugh...and talk about rape, and love the situation so much that it's worth restarting a conversation and kicking a group member over it.

I don't think whoever wrote the scene intended it as a misogynistic moment--these are bad guys after all, blah blah. And if it just went by in a one-time class mission or something, then I don't think it would be a huge deal. But they essentially made violence against a woman (outside of fair combat, of course--it is a fight-centric game) a repeatable group activity that has apparently become a highlight for some players. That is a mistake that shows a lack of foresight on BioWare's part, and unfortunately it helps bring out a negative aspect of our community. The bad ones may be a small proportion of the community, but they are vocal and noxious. The most the community can do is choose other dialogue options and speak out against things like those awful guys joking about "******" the Jedi. It's probably too much to ask groupfinder pugs to choose other dialogue options, though it could be worth mentioning to guildies if you're so inclined. BioWare...I know they have other things that are probably higher priority for them, so I don't really see them doing anything. I'd say get to level 55 and kiss Boarding Party goodbye--but the fact is, you shouldn't have to.

TL;DR: This game is being played in a culture in which violence against women is a problem, and in a gaming culture that has a terrible reputation for treatment of women--characters and players. Because of this culture the conversation described is not exactly the same regardless of the gender of the subject; even if you don't see it as gender-specific, others do. The repeatability and group nature of this conversation combined with these negative aspects of the culture breed problematic behaviors in some and serve to marginalize others. It is an unfortunate situation.
Revan: You just called me a meatbag again!
HK-47: Explanation: It's just that...you have all these squishy parts, master. And all that water! How the constant sloshing doesn't drive you mad, I have no idea.
Revan: Neither do I, come to think of it...