[Trigger Warning: Discussion of rape in the post and possibly the comments]
I know I shouldn’t be surprised to find misogyny rampant in the video game industry. But to find it rampant, unashamed, and proud of itself? I guess I still shouldn’t be surprised.
Yesterday gaming site Kotaku posted a short interview with Tomb Raider executive producer Ron Rosenberg. Crystal Dynamics, the company behind the game, was eager to get the word out about it at the E3 gaming convention last week and to let the world know that the Lara Croft we’ll see in the series reboot isn’t going to be as buxom as before. Instead, she’ll be at the beginning of her career and the player will get to see her grow into the badass she’ll become. But until she does, the player will “want to protect her.”
DANGER, JILL ROBINSON.
It gets worse. Not only will Lara exude helplessness and the need for the invisible man at the controls to protect her, the creative team is pulling out a not-so-creative old hat trick for female character development: rape.
In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft will suffer. Her best friend will be kidnapped. She’ll get taken prisoner by island scavengers. And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her. “She is literally turned into a cornered animal,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s forced to either fight back or die.”
Yeah, turning women into animals who have to fight for their sexual purity is awesome. Am I right?
I just want to facepalm over and over again until this leaves my brain forever.
Rosenberg’s language reveals him to be the skeezy sexist he pretends not to be with all this bullshit here:
“The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear.”
You can tell he’s going for the female-positive cookies. He promptly loses him in the very next breath:
“She literally goes from zero to hero… we’re sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again.”
Yeah, you can’t have those women getting too confident.
In general, this narrative of the hero building and building toward being a badass who is then cut down just as she gets too confident is a pretty common one going all the way back to mythology. The problem arises when you consider that male heroes are almost never “broken” by rape or the threat of rape, but female characters almost always are. And that’s misogyny.
Why can’t Lara be captured and almost eaten? Sure, that has some sexual overtones to it, but is something different. Or hey, how about she’s captured and beaten up or nearly killed, just like a male character would be, then overcomes this to escape?
Nah, that would be something like right.
Beyond that, what is this business about the player feeling a need to protect Lara? Why is that necessary or needed? Oh right, because she’s a girl.
Though I’ve seen no media from this new game, I’m going to guess that the characters who attempt to rape Lara will be black or brown peoples. It’s just a guess since fail seems to be the default setting for this game company.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m glad I’m not a gamer.