Slap her. That's right - I didn't want to hold you in suspense any longer. None of this 'teaser sentence' stuff where you are halfway through the blog post before you get the answer that you've been waiting for.
The answer is: slap her. At least, that's what a new video game, "Duke Nukem Forever" (set to be released in June) is telling its players. As part of this video "game", you abduct women, and then if they make a fuss (as we women are so prone to doing), you just give her a "reassuring slap".
Now in case you thought this was just a minor part of the video game (maybe its designers aren't TOTAL misogynistic jerks), you'll feel reassured when you read that Duke Ferris, the Editor-in-Chief at Gamehelper.com, told one news outlet that "the game is meant to objectify women - that's the point."
Here's what happens: the game begins with the Duke getting "implied oral sex from a set of twins wearing school uniforms". Solicitation from minors? Check. Statutory rape? Check. Assertion of patriarchal hegemony? Check. Then things get worse. You get abducted (I'm sorry - when I say "you", I mean the woman in the scene. Even if I'm playing a video game, I identify more with the female character being assaulted than I do with "my character" on the screen) - so, you get abducted, and shriek. What does the protagonist have to do? Why, press a button, and you are slapped. Other scenes aren't too much better, requiring the player to seek out sex toys and pictures of topless women.
Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen such things in video games. A few years ago, "RapeLay" (no, I could NOT make up that name) made headlines for giving gamers the opportunity to assault a girl on a train platform, follow her onto the train and assault her again, and then also attack her sister and mother. The player can even be joined by his friends so that they can all engage in some good old-fashioned male bonding as they stalk and rape these women over and over and over again. But it's ok, because this particular girl on the platform had earlier accused you, the player, of molesting her, and who doesn't love to see a woman put in her place?
After hearing the outrage from women's groups (there we are making a fuss again), the game was removed from some store shelves. But in this day and age, all that means is that it went viral. Nothing like having sexual assault of female playthings be available (for free in this case) to anyone who's willing to click a button promising they're over 17.
Now let's just clarify something: not all video games are drenched in sexism and misogyny. One day, I probably will play some Katamari Damacy just for the fun of it. But unfortunately, too many games do fit this mold. And even more unfortunately, these games aren't difficult to find, buy, or even download for free.
Sexism in media and pop culture is one thing - and even that's bad enough already as is. But if I were a young boy exposed to this sort of misogyny on a regular basis, there's a better than even chance that I'd grow up to be a violent rapist, too. It'd look something like this (for those who believe such things are rare and women just enjoy kicking up a fuss for no reason).
Plenty of other feminists have picked this story up as well, including Rachel at Feminist Fatale who has the patience to give more background on the defense offered by the creators and supporters of the game.
So, those who know me know that as much as I love to rant and rave about such things, I love to give people concrete action to take even more. Here's what to do: Shelby Knox, Change.org's rockstar Director of Organizing for Women's Rights, has launched a petition directed at Wal-Mart demanding that they not sell the game unless the Capture the Babe segment is removed.
As I mentioned earlier, taking the games off store shelves isn't a full proof way of keeping it out of the hands of minors, but it's a start. We also need to spread the word so that parents know exactly what's in these games and take concrete, firm steps to teach young boys (and girls) the right and wrong ways to think about, interact with, and treat women.
So, tell your friends, sign the petition, and if you're a parent, for heaven's sake keep these types of video games out of the hands of your kids. Our lives really are at stake.
This piece was cross-posted at Fem2.0