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On cognitive dissonance, hypocrisy and tits

There are few things that make me want to rub one out more than a seriously lovely pair of tits. Firm, perky tits trapped in something really tight – a corset, a low-cut t-shirt, or occasionally just squished together with a belt or a length of rope.

I was casually perusing the internet recently when I came across a fantastic example of this – a woman with beautiful, hard tits wearing a top stretched tightly over them, with a hand-sized peephole in the middle displaying cleavage, and a rise in the top beneath so you could see the curve of the underside of them. Stunning.

Naturally, I immediately pulled down my jeans and rubbed quick one out – imagining a guy pushing the end of his dick against her chest and wanking until he spurted thick spunk through the hole in her top.

Hypocrisy and self-disgust

Immediately afterwards I felt pathetic and amoral. Not for wanking – if I felt bad for wanking I’d have lost the will to live before I hit my fourteenth birthday. No, I felt pathetic because the picture was:

a) not of a real woman, but of a video game character
b) being used to illustrate an article about the objectification of women in video games.

Not only did I crack one off to an article that explicitly frowned upon crack-offable video game characters, but I subsequently read the article and agreed with it.

Some video game design is shockingly objectifying, and borderline offensive. The women are usually inhumanly pert-breasted, unnaturally slim waisted and wearing clothes that are deeply impractical for fighting. Even the moves seem designed to draw attention to whichever feminine features are expected to most excite teenaged boys. Those who learn the right Dead or Alive moves will be rewarded with a flash of Kasumi’s panties, or a hypersexual throw in which she leaps, cunt-first, at her opponent’s face, squeezing her muscular thighs around their cheeks before hurling them to the ground.

On an intellectual level it disgusts me. But on the very basic, primal level at which I operate when I’m at home in my knickers, it makes me wet. Playing video games against women with massive, hard, well-framed tits leaves me panting and desperate to be touched. I see Ayane’s tits jiggling and I want boys to touch mine. I see her being hurled to the ground and I want to be hurled to the ground. I imagine that after a fight her opponent takes her into the woods, and she stares in awe at him with her impossibly-wide manga eyes as he triumphantly seals his victory by fucking her in the mouth.

Just show me your tits

It works no matter which role I’m in. Whether I’m playing as a male character or a female one. Playing Xbox with a boy today, in between bouts of screaming “die, DIE, eat my fucking AXE, you cuntbag” I was imagining my male character pinning his girl to the floor, and taking her with quick, rough, angry thrusts. Ripping her clinging top from her jiggling tits and spraying jizz all over them.

But although I’ll revel in it at the time – trash talk my opponent and encourage him to join me in my questionable perving (“Look, kiddo – I can see your fucking panties. When I’ve beaten you we’ll watch the replay together so you can imagine me tearing your top open“) – I know it’s wrong. It’s not bad to look at tits, but it is bad to appreciate these particular tits, which have been put there by designers with teenaged boys and quick sales in mind. The game’s been drawn so that – in between beating monsters and stabbing slick-haired sword-wielding princes – players will be imagining the characters fucking.

I don’t know what my conclusion is here – I want there to be something that will square the circle, and explain away my vague sense of self-disgust. I want an excuse for wanking to material that morally I should condemn.

But I’ve got nothing. So I suppose this is a bit of a plea – tell me what the answer is. I figured if anyone would know about masturbating to pixellated images of tits it’d be the friendly hordes of the internet.

So, people – is this OK, or is it reprehensible for a feminist? Should I carry on, safe in the knowledge that no kittens will die in the making of my tragic wanks? Or should I pull up my knickers and grow the fuck up? If you can think of a way I can fight to end female objectification while simultaneously pressing buttons to make tits jiggle, I’d be ever so grateful. I don’t have a penny for your thoughts, but I can start by offering you this picture.

26 Comments

  • @BookCunt says:

    I think it’s fine, but I should add that I wanked over Iorek Byrnison in the first His Dark Materials book. Not sure whether or not that makes my opinion less valid than someone who doesn’t wank over armoured polar bears.

    • Girl on the net says:

      This made me lose my shit. Iorek Byrnison? You are a disgusting creature, BC. I’m not sure I’ve ever cracked one off to an animal, although could more easily be tempted if they have armour. And are totally and completely badass. Must re-read this book, and give it a crack.

  • M says:

    Genuinely don’t see a problem with it, whatever floats one’s proverbial boat. Yes women are sometimes objectified in video games but the guys are similar. They are often the perfect male specimen with defined abs and great hair. You have to question if people want to play video games with ugly or even normal looking people in them though, what would be the appeal? Games like GTA that give an observation of society will have a wide variety of charachters with a variety of different body types and shapes. It seems to be the more cartoony, charachateured charachters that are objectified the way you spoke about.

    Anyway, my two cents.

    • Girl on the net says:

      True – the boys are usually pretty muscular, idealised specimens. But then they’re also older sometimes, evil sometimes, and sometimes creepy jester-type characters or massive twisted green hulks. Although I expect some of them are designed to be sexy, I wouldn’t say it’s as important for a male character to be drawn with some sort of sex appeal – almost all of the women have either nice tits, a lovely arse, or a combination of the two. I should clarify that the game that mainly prompted this was Soul Calibur V, in which almost all of the women (all of the women? possibly) are dirty sexy things, whereas the men are much more varied. And there’s a dinosaur.

      But thank you – I am now feeling slightly less like a pathetic and disgusting individual. =)

    • OnlyHereForOneComment says:

      http://www.shortpacked.com/2011/comic/book-13/05-the-death-of-snkrs/falseequivalence/

      Of course, some ladies like muscular hunks, but I prefer mine skinny and breakable or squidgey and cuddleable. And it should be noted that the amount of people who actually prefer beachballs at either end to the myriad of other body shapes is less than half.

      On the other hand, wanking to any of these isn’t even as bad as wanking to photoshopped ladies in magazines, at least you know those curves aren’t real, and in an ideal world the wankable characters would still exist, there would just be more kinds available.

      I hope that makes sense.

  • Rev Will says:

    Your post reminded me of a post from Extra Punctuation

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/9781-Excessively-Excessive

    which admittedly never really gets to a point about what to do about it, it is more concerned with why it happens in the first place.

    The thought of sexy gaming trash talk does make me very horny.

  • Dove says:

    I actually have a similar issue with porn sometimes. I enjoy rough, hard, female being punished porn. It’s so fucking sexy and gets me super wet.

    Then afterwards I think of my friend who works with vulnerable girls and fights the way that (some) porn exploits people and the studies that show that violent porn is on the increase and may be effecting the way younger males are treating women and what they expect from sex.

    And most of the time, I’m sure the porn is done by consenting, happy actors, but other times it’s really not.

    But I just find it so damn hot….

    • Dove says:

      PS it is difficult though.

      Intellectually, you know that if someone asked you what you thought of objectifying women, and designing video game/manga characters to always have super big tits whilst being tiny everywhere else – well, you’d be against it. Equal rights, women being more than sex objects, people having realistic standards etc.

      But sexually, you’re turned on by those images as much as the next guy (or teenage boy).

      But then, what turns you on isn’t always going to coincide with your morals I guess….

  • Ken says:

    1. I didn’t remotely buy and play Batman: Arkham City for the sexualised characters.

    2. There’s like a 50/50 chance that when Catwoman, Talia al Ghul, Poison Ivy or even Harley Quinn show up it’ll put me in the mood to rub one out.

    The icky part you’re wrestling with is the same one, I suspect, many of us are – that what starts with a few enjoyable cyber-tits in games becomes the reduction of female characters to little more THAN tits, leading to…well, a gaming culture full of crap like this:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet/2012/07/what-online-harassment-looks

    But the balance, for me, is in pushing for better representations, not in eradicating sexy pixel women in all contexts always. Catwoman’s as feminine as that game’s Batman is masculine (growling, driven super-pectoralled billionaire that he is).

    You can’t pull on the hair shirt for getting enflamed by something that’s designed to enflame. The brain’s never had any luck controlling those bits – it’s only hypocrisy if it could.

    Was I uncomfortable with the YouTube video letching over athlete Ivet Lalova’s backside? Yep. Especially when you see the comments and think “I’m not one of THOSE people, though!” But the hard-on? Hard to avoid.

    We offset the guilt of our libido’s lack of intellectual fairness by applying that fairness when the main brain’s back in control. Buying right, tweeting right, blogging right, donating right. And by making sure, at minimum, that no real person is being directly harmed by our sexual interest.

    It’s the only way to live without going crazy.

  • Richard says:

    I haven’t read the article you’re referring to (can you post a link please?) but I assume the argument about objectification of women in video games is about the same as the argument about objectification of women in porn: That it encourages bad attitudes towards women. You still beat off to porn, so I assume you’ve squared away your conscience on that score. So why not apply the same logic to video games?

    It sounds like you’ve already got a pretty healthy attitude towards women, so you’re not hurting anyone by wanking over anime characters til you’re blue in the face. Hence there’s nothing that you are personally doing wrong here, in my view. However the game companies might be doing something wrong by supplying copious material that reinforces unhealthy attitudes amongst those already inclined towards misogyny.

    Much like porn, the traditional market for video games has always been adolescent males – specifically, the type of adolescent males who are most likely treat women like objects/property. But in recent years, the target market for video games has been diversifying (again, like porn). However unlike porn, video game companies are large and slow to respond to the changing times. As a result, a lot of people who might otherwise have gotten into video games are regrettably turned off by the misogynistic characters. I hope that as the market diversifies, the video game companies will take notice, and the unhealthy attitudes to women in video games will become rarer.

  • Girl on the net says:

    OK, Ken and Richard, I reckon you’re getting close to the place I want to be. (Also, really sorry I can’t post a link to the actual article – tried to re-find it but it was a few days ago and I can’t track it down)

    I guess my main concern is that I feel like I’m reinforcing the attitudes towards women by doing exactly what the designers want – i.e. finding them arousing. But then Ken – your point about just reacting because it’s your body reacting is right too.

    The porn thing – I think it’s quite different. There is a whole different set of issues with porn because it’s real people involved, and although the issues around reinforcing attitudes are similar, it’s essentially (with ethical porn, anyway) an issue of choice for the performers, and those who buy their shit.

    With video games, there doesn’t seem to be an active choice that one can make. If I want to buy a game where you button-mash to kill some other person in a circle, is there one available that *didn’t* involve hyper-sexualised jiggling women in string thongs? I don’t think there is. And if there were, would I make an active choice to buy it over the ones that *were* sexual?

    That’s probably the key issue, for me. Although – as you say, Ken – these things are difficult to control, the fact is that we *can* control them if we make a conscious effort. OK, my life would be less fun if I didn’t watch things that made me wet, but I wouldn’t keel over and die – I’d find other things that made me wet that were perhaps more ethical.

    Christ, I sound like a tosser. But yeah, I want both of you to be right, and for it to essentially be an issue of “company does X, I realise that by cracking one off to it I won’t have a huge detrimental impact on the world.” But I feel like I am actually having an impact on the world, albeit a small one, that requires a bit more introspection. Still, introspection’s tedious, so I’ll have to just ponder it occasionally in between wanks.

    • Richard says:

      You’re right, porn can be different – I’m assuming ethical porn with well-treated actors, to keep things simple.

      Since you don’t have a poor attitude to women, the main concern is whether, by buying these games, you are providing an incentive for these companies to keep making these games. So you could boycott them (or pirate them instead, ahar! Ethical piracy, who’d have thunk it?) and you’ll avoid contributing to a company who’s possibly reinforcing some gamers’ negative attitudes towards women. And that’s fine. But really, it’s such an incredibly minor harm that it pales into insignificance compared to all the other shit you do every day. Did you spend money on a frivolous game instead of donating money to charities to help starving Africans? Did you eat a burger, or unnecessarily burn fossil fuels? If so, you probably caused more harm than you did by buying one of these computer games. I’d say don’t worry about it so much.

      • Tom Sissons says:

        I don’t like the argument that just because your actions won’t change anything they don’t matter. This is down to what kind of ethics you espouse but personally I find myself agreeing much more with some kind of absolutist Kantian model where some things aren’t right, no matter their effect. Yeah maybe not buying this game isn’t going to make a difference, but if it’s wrong to support this company it’s wrong to support the company right? I’m not saying this is necessarily a morally bad thing to do, but I can’t agree that just because nothing will change if you act differently that the way you act doesn’t matter.

        Besides I think it’s also arguable that the way girlonthenet acts could change things, not by herself, but collective action leads to large change. Look at the boycott of apartheid South Africa.

    • J says:

      Since Twitter was too short. This is really muddled becuase I’m a bit confused by the crossing over of a few different points. I’m also in danger of repeating what everyone else said and for that I apologise

      1) “…I feel like I’m reinforcing the attitudes towards women by doing exactly what the designers want..”
      I disagree. The designers of the games are doing exactly what we want. It’s our demand that creates the characters look within the games. People like jiggling boobs – FACT.

      Game porn or real porn both are just catering to our demands they are not forming them. They’re not portraying anything that some teenage perv hasn’t already dreamt up in their imagination (having been one I know full well).

      You can only re-enforce what the designers think we want by buying the game and in so doing giving it your approval.

      Whether these things SHOULD be in a game is another matter altogether. I think this is the crux of the peice underneath the arousal issue that you’re talking about i.e. is it OK to be aroused by an image that appears in a context you don’t agree with? Of course. Object to the context not the image. Same as if they put some hardcore porn in the middle of the Radio Times. Is the context wrong – yes. Would it stop me from getting a bonk on – no.

      2) Personally I see the moral distinction between “game porn” and “real porn” (by which I mean porn with real people in) in favour of game porn. The absence of real people makes it less of a moral issue for the simple reason that pixels are incapable of giving their consent because they don’t exist. We give them consent by the act of demanding them. Playing devil’s advocate can we really be sure whatever “real porn” we’re watching is “ethical” – how can you even judge that? The performers may have consented but how can you be sure that they gave that consent genuinely and wholeheartedly? It’s just a minefield! I’m not really that qualified in the arguments on the issue but I believe when it comes to the accusation of objectification of women in pornography I think consent (in terms of words/signiatures) is an assumed given, the position of women in society really drives whether they are objectified or not.

      3) In the interests of full disclosure I enjoy big, wobbly boobs in computer games and real life. I am also considered to be “tediously politically correct” (to borrow from Stewart Lee) by some of my peers.

  • Mr. Archer says:

    You need to play Bayonetta. Your sexual pervocacies should be very satisfied. Apparently, the game also has a one-handed mode. Have fun…

  • Bev says:

    Okay I lied about only being here for one comment.

    I wonder if anyone has done a factor analysis to find the effect of boob size and number of boobs on the sales of a game. Perhaps boob-heavy games are also violence-heavy or contain more crocodiles.

    Also, in this case the consumers have a limited number of options not encompassing the entire possible spectrum. Were we to prefer visible feet to giant boobs, nobody would ever know because nobody thought to make a game that appealed to the foot fetish in the first place. At this point, what we know is people prefer boobs to the other things out there.

    Don’t get me wrong, boobs are pretty awesome, and I would like to see more of all sizes, not just the kind that give me back pain.

  • Raoul says:

    These games and or porn are nothing to do with equality. What gets you off in bed or while enjoying someone else on the kitchen table should not be confused with equality, in any way.

    The High court judge, (male) that wants/needs to be spanked by nanny in order to get off, would be rightly pissed if that caused his legal opinion to be less considered. A woman that likes to be utterly objectified in bed, spanked and taken roughly should have no issues be taken seriously when she submits her calcs and scheme for the engineering on a tower block which will stand for the next hundred years! There is and has always been a supposed relationship between what we like in bed and how we are/what we think in the world. Richard “Lion Heart” was gay, but had this been accepted publicly he would have had problems leading men into battle. Is there ANY correlation between sexuality and performance in battle, certainly none of any apparent significance, but there is LOTS of prejudice.
    The one thing people think they know about women is that the “submit” to being entered by a man and somehow that is supposed to make them less. The images associated with this and the path that leads to an act where women “submit” to males are considered pejorative. The attempts to control male violence, (currently being featured on R4), further render these behaviors problematic.
    In point of fact it is what happens after that should be what we are talking about and men and women should worry less about how they like to get laid.

  • JuJu says:

    Mmmm… I just wanted to stick in my 2p (less sexy than 2 cents but it’s all I have) and say I really enjoyed this post and all the comments.

    I never watched porn and I’ve never felt I’ve needed to, but I’ve always had a thing for female manga characters, especially when they do that flashing their tits/ knickers thing. And as someone’s already said above, the second you get a character like Catwoman or Poison Ivy in some PVC or whatever – game or movie, I’m right there. The male characters stop doing it for me at all at that point. I inadvertently outed this to some friends by the kind of manga images I’d been pinning on Pinterest, but guess what – they all get it as well, male and female. I think that’s not unhealthy, it’s what we have all been staring at as we grew into adults.

    And yes, drawing women in such a way probably objectifies them, but don’t think in the same way as photoshopped celebrities in every magazine on the shelf. I might go and make myself a dedicated Pinterest board and share it with you all!!

  • Girl on the net says:

    Right, people – you are all brilliant and I love you all. Thank you for your thoughts, which have certainly gone a way to clarify what I think about this, and make me actually think about it properly.

    First thought: I want to do away with the comparison between video games and porn, as I don’t think it really works. I can understand why we automatically want to draw that comparison – both video games and porn contain lovely tits, and sometimes we like to look at these things when we crack one off. But herein the similarity ends, and my opinions on porn are very different to those on video games (because of the complexities involved when you have to look at human consent as opposed to pixels – and as J so concisely pointed out – pixels cannot consent to things or make active decisions).

    But more importantly than that, porn is deliberately made to incentivise us to crack one off. If I watch some porn and don’t want to slip a hand down my knickers, ultimately it has failed in its primary role. And that is why porn is so varied – the things that people like to wank off to are deeply varied, and if the porn industry does not cater to that it will stop making money. And the variation in the porn world is key here, I think. Wanking to porn is a really different proposition to wanking to video games: you can find almost any porn you like on the internet, gay straight male female etc etc etc. If I find certain types of porn (at worst) offensive or (at least) unsexy I can choose to pull my knickers up and go elsewhere. But I cannot do that with video games.

    What games designers are doing is making games that are specifically designed to place women in the role of ‘thing to be fucked’ and making no alternative options. Thus implying (and quite rightly) that the main point of the game is not to crack one off.

    However, they’re using tits as a special magic bonus for what I expect they are seeing as the ‘teenaged boy market’. In actual fact this market includes a hell of a lot more people than teenaged boys – i.e. me, and most straight men I know. So if we do have to compare video game tits with something I think we should be comparing them with something more similar – something that has a primary purpose, and the tits are included as a super-special bonus for the perceived target audience: images in mags don’t quite work, as they are usually either shown purely for wanking purposes (Zoo, Nuts, FHM) or for other purposes, which are subsequently corrupted by dirty fuckers like you and I who might like to look at an otherwise innocent fashion shoot and imagine it covered in spunk.

    How about ads? Maybe that’s a better comparison, and also perhaps sums up my feelings of discomfort a bit better. Ads are there to sell things. Usually there’ll be a message behind the product (i.e. this product will make you a man/clean your worktops/end global warming etc), but then sometimes, on top of this message, there is sex. A hot girl in the background, dressed ever so slightly more skimpily than is necessary to sell a car, or a toaster, or whatever it is we’re trying to sell. This product isn’t sexual, people aren’t being told ‘buying this will get you more sex’, but they are being subtly encouraged to think better of a thing because it is presented alongside some tits.

    And I think this is what video games are doing, but in a more obvious way. I don’t feel bad about finding tits attractive, and I don’t feel bad about finding pixellated tits attractive, but I do feel bad about not kicking up more of a fuss around the fact that tits are presented as the only bonus worth giving. The fact that this particular bonus is one aimed primarily at straight men. And most of all the fact that if one wanted to make an active choice and buy a video game that didn’t include this, there aren’t any options out there.

    As Richard so correctly pointed out – there are lots of things that we sit around moralising about without actually taking any action. And that’s a bloody fair point – after all, I am not a vegetarian, despite the fact that I know morally I should be. However, I think in this situation I probably would make that choice – I’d buy a video game without tits in. Shocking, I know, given my perverted tendencies. But I think I’d buy it mostly to prove to games designers that there are people out there for whom tits aren’t a bonus (even if to me they are) – I suspect others would as well. I would love to know if anyone has done any analysis of the kind that Bev suggested – do tits in games make a difference to overall sales? I assume they would. But is there a market for games which don’t include tits? I doubt whether anyone’s done this research, someone get on to Rockstar or Namco and tell ’em they should =)

    Anyway, I will continue to ponder this conundrum, and shan’t burn my bridges by completely eschewing wanking in the meantime. Thank you all for your interesting comments and input – has definitely made me feel less guilty about things, and also helped to clarify what exactly it is about this situation (i.e. the disgusting and fetid quim-slicked recesses of my own brain) that bothers me.

  • Oddball says:

    Ah, this conundrum. Again. Well, I honestly don’t know what to say. I largely play games that don’t feature too much overt sexuality in the first place (DDO & Tribes: Ascend).

    I’ll admit to playing female characters for the most part (I’m a guy). This is because when I’m going to spend hours looking at a character’s backside, I figure it might as well be a shapely one. I’ve had some women tell me the same thing.

    But, if we were to play a game of “Word Association”, and you said “games”, I would not say “tits” or “sexuality”.

    That said, here’s my opinion: games made for older teens and adults should not be forced to avoid the subject of sexuality, and no one should feel ashamed of reacting physically to anything sexy in a game.

    But the degree to which sexuality has been made a selling point of some games is just stupid. Since others have already discussed the innumerable offenses regarding the objectification of women in video games, I’d like to discuss something else that pisses me off: those times when sexualizing a character makes no sense whatsoever.

    The most obvious offenders, of course, are combat games. Take Miranda in Mass Effect, for example. They try to explain it away with “nano fibers”, “polymers”, and my personal favorite technological scapegoat, “Mass Effect”. The simple truth is, however, that her “armor” wouldn’t stand up to the average human male erection, much less supersonic projectiles.

    My point is that, after the objectification itself, the greatest crime is that this over-sexualization breaks my suspension of disbelief, and destroys the narrative. Otherwise perfectly good stories (discounting the end of ME3) are ruined by ignoring all logic in favor of displaying an impressive pair of tits.

    At that point, their creative plots, excellent dialogue, and beautiful art become tarnished. This is not right. If game corporations can’t show respect for women (they are trying, or so I hear) then they should at least have respect for a good story.

    I didn’t mean for this comment to be so long, but then, this subject does bother me. I mean, it’s not just games, of course. Movies, T.V. shows, books, I’ve seen this mistake made over and over, everywhere.

    It’s not wrong for these things to be sexy. I just wish they wouldn’t ignore all logic just to fit in one more cleavage shot. I might be a guy, but I think I could handle that.

    • Oddball says:

      “I’ve had some women tell me the same thing.”

      That is to say, I’ve had women tell me that they play guys for pretty much the same reason.

  • Buddha says:

    “Crack-offable.” Love it. I’m going to borrow that line.

  • Lee says:

    There’s a reason why 90% of all my World of Warcraft characters are female. Its multipart, and goes thus :

    1) I’m with oddball : lady curves. Oh dear me yes.
    2) Because a strong, intelligent, courageous, and dammit yes valiant woman is even more sexy
    3) even acknowledging 2, I still feel more deeply attached to a female character because it plays into an instintive desire on my part to be protective of her

    Finally, of course, she’s not a real person who might feel deeply upset by my urge to lust after her.

    The (commercial) porn thing? It’s *acting*. I see the problem : if the viewer doesn’t understand that, they’ll get a very odd perspective on sexual relationships. Let’s bear in mind that you’re supposed to be at least 18 to watch porn, on the theory at least that you realise at that point that it’s fiction.

    Now, I grant, the stuff people post of themselves is *possibly* acting too, but the line is blurrier, and the odds are that its more likely to be an expression of their joint desires than the director’s storyboard/what-sells-most.

    If you’re posting footage without consent of all parties, BTW, it’s a criminal act, you douchebag. Worse than those guys on the train badmouthing the women they were with at the weekend.

    But the bottom line (*wink* for the awesome GOTN among others) is that, like fantasies, anime/game ladies aren’t real.

    Real ladies can, after all, surprise and innovate. Which is a win-win scenario, eh?

  • Lee says:

    Thought of someone. Fictional character, but great example.

    Eowyn of Rohan.

    Beautiful, Vulnerable, Valiant and Heroic.

    Kicks the Witch King of Angmar’s ass into oblivion.

    Oh. My. Fucking. God. What. A. Woman. =D

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