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Sexual violence, slavery, and genocide. Just another day in the Empire?

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Story and Lore
Sexual violence, slavery, and genocide. Just another day in the Empire?

KurganNazzir's Avatar


KurganNazzir
02.03.2012 , 03:49 PM | #401
I'm just going to throw this out there: the Jedi and Republic aren't all that 'good' either, they're just not as open about how they do things as the Sith and the Empire are.
Dark Eclipse
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Clovermite_'s Avatar


Clovermite_
02.03.2012 , 03:52 PM | #402
Quote: Originally Posted by tehjai View Post
The fact of the matter is that these things are put in the game specifically to address the fact that it actually *is* okay in the Empire. If we as players are made to feel uncomfortable by it, then the writing and design has done its job. But our characters, by design, by the fact that this is their world, do not necessarily have to feel the same way. The treatment of Vette (and Quinn) is not a heinous crime in this universe. Bioware would ruin it by making it any other way.
Amen. I find interesting in the Kotaku article how the author wishes to assign to take no responsibility for having gone out of his way to explore the darkest options of the Vette, assigning all the blame for the immorality of the content to Bioware, and THEN proceeds to feel morally superior for 'feeling bad about it'. I think it is to Bioware's credit that a great number of the dark side options have consequences that leave the player feeling the weight of his/her choice.

Case in point, in the Black Talon flashpoint you have the option of killing a character fairly early on (trying to avoid too much of a spoiler here). If you exercise that option, the result is a fairly hollow victory.

Nonetheless, I feel that the issue at heart here is less about whether or not Vette's story arc in and of itself is sexist, but the fact that there is no comparable male counterpart reveals the institutionalized sexism in the culture surrounding the developer's decisions (and by that I mean more gamer culture as a whole than I do Bioware specifically). I've done a lot of thinking on this topic since I first saw the thread, and I find myself agreeing with the views presented in the "The Mary Sue" article (thank you MDav for the link).

Essentially, the real issue is the fact that there is no male equivalent companion who can be tortured and later romanced. True, there are male slaves in the game with shock collars, but you are not given the extensive options to cultivate an abusive love-hate relationship with them . Furthermore, in general, there tends to be a lot of sexualizing the female characters in the game, without an appropriate similar level applied to the male characters:

The cantinas are filled with scantily clad females dancing around holographic stripper poles, but there are no equivalent male exotic dancers. Most of the female sith lords I've encountered thus far as designed as attractive females, while most of the male sith lords wear garish costumes.

I don't, however, feel this is something Bioware should be demonized for. In general, I feel like Bioware puts in more effort than most game companies to be sensitive to issues of race and sexual orientation, and I believe this is merely an oversight in the context of a larger game industry that still struggles with a lot of un-investigated institutional sexism. I do feel though, that this is an opportunity for Bioware to take note of the subtle unconscious biases that have led to certain decisions, and to take a more gender positive decisions in the future.

While I don't particularly wish to look at half naked men, I enjoy the feminine eye candy that has been given in the game, and I think it is only fair that masculine eye candy be presented for those who desire it (and to remain equitable).

tehjai's Avatar


tehjai
02.03.2012 , 04:01 PM | #403
Quote: Originally Posted by Attaraxia View Post
Maybe taking a more open-minded stance and getting crapped on for it drove BW's writers to the traditional sexist route for SWTOR.

Maybe ME3 will be a step back in the right direction. I suppose we'll see.
While I understand that it's important to look at media critically and say "yeah, there are things happening here that are sexist/ableist/insert-ist-here", I don't think that one should automatically assume that because a work of fiction portrays something that IRL is tasteless, taboo, or illegal, that the creators of the work of fiction are proposing that these ideals make their way into the real world.

I'm not saying you can't criticize a work because those things make you uncomfortable, not at all, but what was the context of those deaths? Was the book first-person, or even limited omniscient PoV as told by Revan? These things matter; you also have to ascertain how or why these deaths were portrayed the way they were -- that way we can delineate between Revan's possible sexism as opposed to us reading sexism in a fictional text and ascribing that belief to the writer. Is it possible that this was a deliberate stylistic choice to create tension? You say it's uncomfortable how these women died, perhaps that had a purpose in the narrative, as opposed to the writer being a sexist hack.

Yes, there are aspects of the entire Star Wars universe that are sexist. It's a blatantly sexist universe; it's not like our own where we point the finger and say "sexism bad". In the GFFA, these things are (regrettably) accepted to a better degree than they are here. This is why the "context" and "commentary" that people are looking for isn't there. These things are the norm in that world. To provide a commentary on How Bad It Is would just break the fourth wall and essentially jerk us right out of immersion.

Creative endeavours oftentimes require the creator (or the player, in terms of MMORPGs) to extend beyond their own personal belief systems. Social injustices without commentary create tension and conflict and flavour a world. It's not up to the creator to hold our hands and point to the injustices and say "remember, this is wrong". That's where personal media literacy comes in.

I don't have a problem with things being pointed to as sexist, because yeah, often they are. However, I have a problem with people who can't fathom the idea of working in a universe that is not our own, creating characters that are not us. I have a problem with people who think that because you write a sexist story or a sexist character, you're inherently sexist.

There's sexism in Star Wars because it's one of the shadowy, seedy canon features of the GFFA.
The Oboa Legacy - Playing Pretend on The Ebon Hawk

Tiona, 60 Mercenary || Perkele, 60 Sorcerer || Hanneke, 60 Mercenary || Rachilde, 60 Gunslinger || Roche, 60 Scoundrel || Tio'na, 60 Sniper || Maz'ahid'erinth, 60 Operative

Jeargroth's Avatar


Jeargroth
02.03.2012 , 04:19 PM | #404
Quote: Originally Posted by Madcatyoji View Post
After playing with Vette I bought my wife a shock collar....
But who gets to wear it? You or the wife?

tehjai's Avatar


tehjai
02.03.2012 , 04:25 PM | #405
Quote: Originally Posted by Clovermite_ View Post

Nonetheless, I feel that the issue at heart here is less about whether or not Vette's story arc in and of itself is sexist, but the fact that there is no comparable male counterpart reveals the institutionalized sexism in the culture surrounding the developer's decisions (and by that I mean more gamer culture as a whole than I do Bioware specifically).
<snip>
Essentially, the real issue is the fact that there is no male equivalent companion who can be tortured and later romanced.

<snip>
The cantinas are filled with scantily clad females dancing around holographic stripper poles, but there are no equivalent male exotic dancers. Most of the female sith lords I've encountered thus far as designed as attractive females, while most of the male sith lords wear garish costumes.

<snip>

While I don't particularly wish to look at half naked men, I enjoy the feminine eye candy that has been given in the game, and I think it is only fair that masculine eye candy be presented for those who desire it (and to remain equitable).
These are all valid points, and I agree that it's less a marked attempt to be sexist and more indicative of the systematic problem. But BioWare has taken strides to avoid the most egregious of sexist tropes in game (plate bikinis, All Male Leaders All The Time).

I do have one small counterpoint to make though: At the Promenade in Nar Shaddaa, you can see male dancers; but I agree, they're not as widespread as the exoticised female dancers.

What bothers me re: Vette, upon further reflection, is that her closest male equivalent is Quinn, whom a character can sexually harrass and belittle and eventually pursue a romance with. I'll assume that while both genders can shock Vette/belittle Quinn, it is quite gendered and rather sexist to have physical punishment -> romance for male characters, and conversely emotional punishment -> romance for female characters. Maybe this will change when/if the same sex options become available and if BioWare doesn't create companions specifically to address this niche (which I really hope they don't do, but that's another rambling post for another day), and both options become available to both genders.

If there was anything at all in the SW storyline that makes me give BioWare the side-eye, it's that dichotomy.
The Oboa Legacy - Playing Pretend on The Ebon Hawk

Tiona, 60 Mercenary || Perkele, 60 Sorcerer || Hanneke, 60 Mercenary || Rachilde, 60 Gunslinger || Roche, 60 Scoundrel || Tio'na, 60 Sniper || Maz'ahid'erinth, 60 Operative

daringdragoon's Avatar


daringdragoon
02.03.2012 , 04:29 PM | #406
Quote: Originally Posted by Selaik View Post
simple solution , monitor what your kids play , and for that matter what the watch on TV and the Internet , don't push you responsibility to the rest of us , I have 2 kids its my responsibility what they do not yours.

OMG!! People taking personal responsibly over what they let their kids watch, listen to or play and not expecting producers and or developers to assume that responsibility!?!?!? What madness is this!!!
Who's Scruffy Looking?

daringdragoon's Avatar


daringdragoon
02.03.2012 , 04:37 PM | #407
Quote: Originally Posted by LyriaFrost View Post
You know ... the more I read these responses from you, it seems like you went out of your way to go AFTER the darker aspects of the sith warrior story, and are then saying "see, this is what it makes you do!"

You do realize that you have CHOICES, right? Some of those choices can be dark. Some can be light. My sith warrior has never tortured Vette. She's my friend, my ally, and has my back when things get rough. And if someone tried to hurt her, or called her "just some lowly slave", I'd beat the stuffing out of them. Or just kill them, that's probably easier.

Just because you went whole-hog into the dark side of things doesn't mean that's how the entire game is. You CHOSE to make it that way. Bioware simply gave you the option. You're the one who gleefully embraced it, and now seem to be up in arms about what you CHOSE to do.

Excellent. The OP's rant totally comes across on the lines of, "How dare this game give me options that let me realize what I really like to get off on!"
Who's Scruffy Looking?

Macheath's Avatar


Macheath
02.03.2012 , 04:41 PM | #408
Quote: Originally Posted by tehjai View Post
And just in case anyone still can't wrap their heads around it: WE ARE NOT OUR CHARACTERS. WE ARE NOT OUR CHARACTERS. WE ARE NOT OUR CHARACTERS.
The problem is, some people are their characters. As the Mary Sue article points out, there are plenty of players out there who are bragging IRL about the mistreatment of Vette.

These are obviously not the majority of the player base. But these people are out there, and they are the same players who can't handle hearing a woman's voice in voice chat without immediately starting in with sexist comments, who bully female players right out of a game. While it's certainly not BioWare's fault that these players exist (they existed long before TOR came along) it certainly does nothing to help female gamers find a home in TOR when they get to hear male players rant in general chat, on the forums, and on other social media sites (Youtube comments, etc.) about how much fun it is to shock their female slave "who deserved it for not knowing her place."

-Macheath.
Remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

ErikModi's Avatar


ErikModi
02.03.2012 , 04:44 PM | #409
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Jedi vs. Sith, Page 97, column 2, paragraph 4, line 1:

Prior to the Battle of Ruusan, the Jedi used crystals from many different sources, and ignited lightsabers in every known hue, including purple, orange, and gold.

Mechavomit's Avatar


Mechavomit
02.03.2012 , 04:45 PM | #410
Quote:
I'll assume that while both genders can shock Vette/belittle Quinn, it is quite gendered and rather sexist to have physical punishment -> romance for male characters, and conversely emotional punishment -> romance for female characters.
If you play a pureblood you can use your wonderful racial ability and *****slap everyone.
But I suppose that doesn't count.