Imposing your values on others
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 November 2013, 5:34 am
There is rarely a week in the blogosphere that goes by without some sort of feminist protest against the way video-game characters or real people dress. So it would have been wise of me to completely ignore this post on cosplay and the articles linked there. After all, we all agree that female armor depicted in video games is not very practical if you consider the function it is supposed to have: Prevent damage. But then I had male characters in games like World of Warcraft with all sorts of wings, horns, or gigantic shoulder pads serving no practical purpose whatsoever. And somewhere I think there is a fundamental difference between talking about video-game characters and real people.

Overly sexualized video-game characters are a problem. World of Warcraft offers some ways around skimpy armor, like transmogrification. But not every game does. And when you can't wear certain pieces of armor because they make your character look a certain way you don't want him to look, that can be a problem. If female characters are visibly designed to be played (and watched) by male teenagers and don't appeal to female players, those female players do have a right to demand at least a choice. And game companies which want a wider audience would be wise to listen.

But what about real people going to a game convention dressed up as a character? I feel deeply uncomfortable with the concept of telling any of them that they "shouldn't dress like that". How is a feminist telling a girl that she shouldn't dress in the famous Princess Leia slave costume any different from a muslim cleric telling a girl that she should wear a burqa? How is it different from any other social conservative telling other people how to live? Sure, you can have personal values which would make you not want to dress like that, but how can you impose those values on others?

I feel it is somewhat insulting to assume that the girl in the skimpy outfit at the games convention doesn't know what she is doing. Obviously she is in no danger of being attacked with a sharp instrument, so why should she worry about whether her "armor" has any protective properties? The guy in the full-plate armor made out of rubber foam wouldn't do well in a real sword fight either. I do believe that people choose their cosplay costume with a lot of thought on how they are going to look. And if they look sexy in it, it is because they WANT to look sexy. Even a "booth babe" who didn't choose her own costume at some point made a conscious decision that she would be willing to look like that if the money was right. And the girls who actually made their own costumes with a lot of effort are very well aware that it isn't much use for either keeping them warm or keeping looks away. As long as a costume is within a country's decency laws, how could anybody have the right to tell them to not dress like that?

I support everybody's right to not go to conventions where people are dressed in a way that he doesn't want to see. But if you go to those conventions you need to respect the right of people to dress like they want. Different people have different personal values, and you can't impose your values on others.
Tobold's Blog

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