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ChingKong
04-10-09, 01:38
okay so in class today we were choosing topics for a project. I (and some other kids) chose sexism. Some of the other students didnt quite understand their topic so they asked the teacher for some clarification. I overheard them speaking of how the media relates to sexism and my teacher mentioned Lara Croft Tomb Raider. He spoke of how videogames have a large breasted woman running around in a skimpy outfit. Basically saying Lara Croft is sexist.

I mean it does make sense right?....I can see how Lara comes across as a sexist video game character but I think theres some kind of a balance. Sure she's "made for guys" but she's also independent and strong.

I guess it varies on the person judging the character.....

Okay so I want to know what you think.....

Im mostly interested on a female point of view :pi:

Nerd For Life
04-10-09, 01:41
No, I do not think Lara comes across as sexist. If anything, she's proving otherwise, she's proving she can shoot a gun and be around climbing and doing anything a man can do.

ChingKong
04-10-09, 01:44
i agree with you NFL (lol). But I do think she's a little sexist....image-wise anyway..

Nerd For Life
04-10-09, 01:44
i agree with you NFL (lol). But I do think she's a little sexist....image-wise anyway..

Can you elaborate? :)

violentblossom
04-10-09, 01:45
Eff no, I like Lara and what she stands for. :ohn: If Susan B. Anthony could have rocked the hot pants, she would have.

Catapharact
04-10-09, 01:46
This article should help you out. Its long but... Well worth the read.

A VERY interesting article (though its long...)

Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo?

by Helen W. Kennedy




As the title suggests, the feminist reception of Lara Croft as a game character has been ambivalent to say the least. The question itself presupposes an either/or answer, thereby neatly expressing the polarities around which most popular media and academic discussions of Lara Croft tend to revolve. It is a question that is often reduced to trying to decide whether she is a positive role model for young girls or just that perfect combination of eye and thumb candy for the boys. It is also increasingly difficult to distinguish between Lara Croft the character in Tomb Raider and Lara Croft the ubiquitous virtual commodity used to sell products as diverse as the hardware to play the game itself, Lucozade or Seat cars. What follows then is an analysis of the efficacy and limitations of existing feminist frameworks through which anunderstanding of the kinds of gendered pleasures offered by Lara Croft as games character and cultural icon can be reached. I will begin by analyzing Lara primarily as an object of representation – a visual spectacle – and then move on, considering the ways in which the act of playing Tomb Raider as Lara disrupts the relationship between spectator and "spectacle."

There is no doubt that Tomb Raider marked a significant departure from the typical role of women within popular computer games. Although a number of fighting games offer the option of a female character, the hero is traditionally male with females largely cast in a supporting role. In this respect alone Lara was a welcome novelty for experienced female game players. "There was something refreshing about looking at the screen and seeing myself as a woman. Even if I was performing tasks that were a bit unrealistic… I still felt like, Hey, this is a representation of me, as myself, as a woman. In a game. How long have we waited for that?" (Nikki Douglas in Cassell and Jenkins 1999).

When Tomb Raider hit the games market, it did so with a good degree of corporate muscle behind it: indeed the game was launched as a significant part of the Sony Playstation offensive. It was a game which deployed the latest in technical advances in games design. Featuring a navigable three-dimensional game space, a simple but atmospheric soundtrack and a level of cinematic realism previously unattainable.[1] The game also made use of a familiar and popular adventure-based narrative format. A great deal has been said already about the extent to which Tomb Raider pillages the Indiana Jones movies for its narrative structure and setting. The success of the game is arguably attributable to this synchronicity between new techniques, a highly immersive and involving game space and game narrative and the controversial (and opportunistic) use of a female lead. Lara is provided with a narrative past appropriate to her status as an adventurerwhy ital? and an aristocratic English accent – a greater degree of characterization than the norm. Certainly, fans and critics suggest that none of these factors alone can explain the world beating success of the first game and its many sequels. "Lara's phenomenal success wasn't just about a cracking adventure, other games had that too. Lara had something that hooked the gamers like nothing has before. At the center of Tomb Raider was a fantasy female figure. Each of her provocative curves was as much part of the game as the tombs she raided. She had a secret weapon in the world of gaming, well... actually two of them" (Lethal & Loaded, 8.7.01). For this fan, judging from the tone, it seems that Lara herself is at least as significant as the story or gameplay. This comment also signals Lara's status as an object of sexual desire, a factor which the marketing/advertising of Tomb Raider was keen to reinforce.

It is clear that the producers of Lara wanted to market her as a character potentially appealing to women; her arrival on the game scene dovetailed nicely with the 90's "girlpower" zeitgeist and could potentially have hit a positive chord with the emergent "laddette" culture which very much centred around playing "lads" at their own game(s). In Killing Monsters Gerard Jones locates Lara amongst a number of feisty and highly sexualized female characters that rose to prominence in the 90s – including Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2002). These characters have a strong "bimodal" appeal in that they manage to engage a large following of both young men and women. The console games market has traditionally been very explicit in their exclusive address to a male audience. In the late 80s and early 90s both Nintendo and Sega made it very clear that to attempt to market games for girls would threaten their real market – boys and young men. Sony's? Playstation, by addressing youth culture in general, broke with this tradition[2]. The featuring of Lara Croft as girl power icon and cover girl for The Face magazine (1997) – where she is compared to both Yoda and Pamela Anderson – demonstrated the success of the marketing campaigns and signaled her penetration within a wider cultural landscape: people who had never played Tomb Raider could not help but have some awareness of Lara the character/icon.

Lara Croft as Action Heroine

The obvious connection between Tomb Raider and film narrative conventions and the way in which the game deploys themes and tropes from other popular cultural forms means that a feminist critique at the level of the politics of representation is somewhat inevitable. One such possible feminist approach might be to welcome the appearance of active female heroines within traditionally male or masculine genres. Lara Croft is by no means the first gun-toting action heroine and the iconography of her representation conforms to conventions deployed from Annie Get Your Gun onwards, but also has forerunners in comic book heroines such as Tank Girl. If, for example, we were to compare her to the representations within the female buddy-movie Thelma and Louise we can find many key commonalities. Tomb Raider also reworks a male-dominated genre and features a female central character: Lara totes a gun as she navigates a hostile landscape fraught with danger. Consider also the ending of Thelma and Louise – they die within the story yet the white screen and the snapshots of them during the credits offer other possible, more positive, endings; with Lara this process becomes even more elaborated as she is resolutely immortal – with each death there is the possibility to replay the level over and over until it comes out right. The popular media and feminist response to Thelma & Louise was also similarly polarized around the issue of their representation – did the fact that they wielded guns guarantee or undermine the films status as feminist? [3] The juxtaposition of physical prowess and sexuality continues to produce a great deal of ambivalence amongst feminist and non-feminist commentators.

Thelma and Louise, and other action heroines such as Trinity in The Matrix, can also be considered as what Mary Russo describes as "stunting bodies" (1994): Female figures which, through their performance of extraordinary feats, undermine conventional understandings of the female body. Thelma and Louise, Trinity and Lara explosively take up space within a particularly masculinized landscape – the desert, dark urban landscapes, caves and tombs – and in doing so offer a powerful image of the absolute otherness of femininity within this space. The action genre is typically masculine so this type of characterization is often celebrated as at least offering some compensation for the ubiquity of oppressive representations of women and the preponderance of masculine hard bodies. The general absence of such characters is part of the reasons why fans become so invested in these characters and helps to explain why the popular, critical and academic response is often so polarized. The transgressive stunting body of the action heroine is replicated in the figure of Lara. Her occupation of a traditionally masculine world, her rejection of particular patriarchal values and the norms of femininity and the physical spaces that she traverses are all in direct contradiction of the typical location of femininity within the private or domestic space. If women do appear within these masculine spaces their role is usually that of love interest (often in need of rescuing) or victim. Lara's presence within, and familiarity with, a particularly masculine space is in and of itself transgressive. By being there she disturbs the natural symbolism of masculine culture.

The absence of any romantic or sexual intrigue within the game narrative potentially leaves her sexuality open to conjectural appropriation on the part of the players. The fact that little evidence can be found of lesbian readings of Lara does not in itself prove that this does not or cannot happen. The ubiquity of the heterosexual readings and re-encodings of Lara leaves little space or legitimacy for this form of identification and desire. Within the masculine culture that pervades gaming practice/discussion and dissemination it is unlikely that female gamers will feel adequately empowered to make such a position explicit. However, the fact that a number of the female fan drawings/images of Lara are ones which portray her in sexually coded poses at least hints at this possibility. (For examples of this artwork see http://www.ctimes.net, http://www.eidos.co.uk; http://network.ctimes.net/volcl). So within this particular feminist framework there is some cause for celebration of Lara's presence as marking a significant breakthrough in the representation of women within the game space itself.

Lara as Fatal Femme

There is another feminist film studies approach that is much less inclined to celebrate the presence of masculinized female bodies. Psychoanalytically informed approaches which have developed from the insights offered by Laura Mulvey's landmark essay (1975) on the function of women within film narrative have a very different take on the tropes of this type of image. Two key insights which appear relevant to Lara are Mulvey's argument that the female body operates as an eroticized object of the male gaze and the fetishistic and scopophilic pleasures which this provides for the male viewer. The second argument was that "active" or "strong" female characters signify a potential threat to the masculine order. This is a more complex argument, dependent as it is on a pyschoanalytic reading of unconscious processes. Within this narrative the female body is a castrated body and as such it represents the threat of castration itself. This threat, it is argued, is disavowed or rendered safe by the phallicization of the female body. It could be argued that Lara's femininity, and thus her castratedness, are disavowed through the heavy layering of fetishistic signifiers such as her glasses, her guns, the holster/garter belts, her long swinging hair.

What is certainly apparent is the voyeuristic appeal of Lara. This is clearly expressed in the critical analysis of Lara by Mike Ward. In a discussion of the relationship between the male player and Lara, he describes his initial discomfort when faced with a photograph of the latest model posing as Lara for marketing purposes (Lara Weller). What disturbs Ward about this image is that Lara is looking directly out at the viewer of the photograph, a look he interprets as signaling her awareness of herself as the object of the gaze. This is something which never happens in the game – voyeuristic pleasure depends upon being empowered to look without being seen. For Ward this appears to betray the contract between the player and Lara. In his view "If Lara never returns the ever-present look, she demonstrates her awareness of the player in other ways: her only spoken word is a terse, slightly impatient, "no" if you try to make her perform a move that isn't possible. To the novice player at an impasse, there seems to be a frustrated potentiality in the way she stands and breathes, the user's ineptitude holding all her agility and lethality at bay"(Ward 2000, my emphasis).

By looking back, Lara disrupts the "circle" of desire which he describes: "And even if she incorporates my banality, my ordinariness, still, she's beautiful. The player's gaze is a strange closed circle of the desiring look and the beautiful, powerful exhibition. In fact, the look and the exhibition are one and the same, bound into a single, narcissistic contract safer and more symmetrical than anything Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was ever able to dream up" (Ward 2000). What is curious about this article by Ward is both his apparent awareness of the complex range of scopophilic pleasures which Lara affords and his utter acceptance of, if not abandonment to, these pleasures. In his reference to Sacher-Masoch he also signals an awareness of their potentially sadistic nature. It has been argued that the internal spaces of game worlds stand in for the mysterious and unknowable interior of the female body; deploying Lara's lethality to navigate and master this space could be argued to enhance these pleasures. Ward does acknowledge that Lara is not real, yet his investment in her and the pleasure he derives from looking at her appear to be very real. Lara is the perfect "object" of desire in what he describes as the equivalence between his look and her performance: she is unwittingly consumed and incorporated through this look. This pleasure is only disrupted when she is made flesh in the form of Lara Weller who can look back, and through this can express a subjectivity outside of this phantasmic circle. The discussion of Lara as a male fantasy object can, however, foreclose any discussion of how she might equally be available for female fantasy. The encapsulation of both butch (her guns/athletic prowess) and femme (exaggerated breast size, tiny waist, large eyes, large mouth) modes of representation makes Lara open to potentially queer identification and desire.

There are also limits to the applicability of this theory to a games character who is simultaneously the hero (active) and the heroine (to be looked at). Lara is closer to Mulvey's later work on the Pandora myth which she explores in Fetishism and Curiosity (1996). Lara too has "a beautiful surface that is appealing and charming to man [which] masks either an "interior" that is mechanical or an "outside" that is deceitful" (1996). Mulvey argues that "Pandora prefigures mechanical, erotic female androids, all of whom personify the combination of female beauty with mechanical artifice." (1996) Whilst relating Pandora to the femme fatale Mulvey finds this productive of a more interesting reading when discussing an active female protagonist. "Pandora's gesture of looking into the forbidden space, the literal figuration of curiosity as looking in, becomes a figure for the desire to know rather than the desire to see, an epistemophilia" (1996). Mulvey's conceptualization allows us to move from considering "activity" as masculine within the dynamics of the spectacle. Within this framework Lara's active negotiation of these hostile landscapes can be conceptualized as a feminine coded "desire to know" – a curiosity which enables us to sidestep the "rather too neat binary opposition between the spectator's gaze, constructed as active and voyeuristic, implicitly coded as masculine, and the female image on the screen passive and exhibitionist." (1996) Whilst this is a useful framework which allows for a more positive reading of Lara it cannot account for how the processes of identification and desire may be enhanced or subverted through playing the game. By focusing on Lara as an agent and a spectacle there is little here that would differ from a reading of the film version of Tomb Raider (2001), and this does not account for the specificity of the experience of playing as Lara.

But Playing as Lara... What Then?

What difference does it make to the argument if we focus on Lara as a character within a game and not a film? One response is to suggest that there may be something of interest in the fact that it is typically a male player who, at least for the duration of the game, is interacting with the game space as a female body. In the game it is the player who determines the actions, so the involvement is potentially that much greater than with other media forms – "the computer "functions as a projection of certain parts of the mind ... producing the uncanny effect of the computer as a second self" (Sofia 1999). Thus, interaction with, and immersion in the game "affords users the narcissistic satisfaction of relating to a technological second self," in this case a female second self (Sofia 1999). The relationship between male player and Lara when playing the game could be seen as analogous to the relationship between Case and Molly in Gibson's Neuromancer (1984). Case is a "console cowboy" who is able to "jack-in" to Molly's sensorium and experience her actions and sensations – she becomes an extension of his nervous system. "Between self and other, subject and object, [the interface] permits quasi-tactile manipulation of computational objects that exist on the boundary between the physical and the abstract" (Sofia 1999). This collapse offers a promise of a utopian subjectivity which is free from the constraints of fixed gender boundaries.

Thus, in this complex relationship between subject and object it could be argued that through having to play Tomb Raider as Lara, a male player is transgendered: the distinctions between the player and the game character are blurred. One potential way of exploring this transgendering is to consider the fusion of player and game character as a kind of queer embodiment, the merger of the flesh of the (male) player with Lara's elaborated feminine body of pure information. This new queer identity potentially subverts stable distinctions between identification and desire and also by extension the secure and heavily defended polarities of masculine and feminine subjectivity. Through this transgendering process, the Lara/player interface is open to two possible queer readings. One is that she is a female body in male drag – a performance of masculinity that undermines its reliance upon a real male body and highlights the instability of masculinity as an identity. Or conversely, Lara could be considered a female drag performer in that the bodily signifiers of femininity are grossly exaggerated to the extent where they threaten to collapse. "What drag exposes… is the "normal" constitution of gender presentation in which the gender performed is in many ways constituted by a set of disavowed attachments or identifications" (Butler 1993). However, this transgendering process can only be argued through if we agree that Lara is in fact a feminine subject in any real sense. Lara's feminity is only secured through these key exaggerated signifiers (or perhaps just the two). This femininity is immediately and irrefutably countered by other phallic signifiers.

Furthermore, the potential transgendering function of playing as Lara does not appear to have any real consequences in the gaming culture sustained by the male players. If anything, any kind of identification with Lara is disavowed through the production of stories and art that tends to want to securely fix Lara as an object of sexual desire and fantasy. The fact that Lara has no sexual or romantic encounters within the game also suggests that the male players and, of course, the designers might feel uncomfortable with identifying her as the object of male desire. It also means that Lara has no sexual identity or subjectivity. To date there are no male-authored fan sites which deal with the question of "how it feels to play as a woman" and it is hard to imagine that there ever could be. Instead, you have a proliferation of sexualized imagery dominating the official and unofficial websites. Alongside these images, there exist rumours and discussions about game patches which enable the player to play with a nude Lara - the legendary "Nude Raider" game patch, or to get her to perform a strip tease. These appear to be more grounded in fantasy than reality, although there are nude images of Lara available on the web. There are also a number of web pages which offer "fragging" opportunities for female gamers to "set fire to" these nude images (see for example http://www.grrlgamer.com/fraggednude.htm). It is the presence of both the official and unofficial highly sexualized images of Lara which is often the focus of critical discussion.

It seems much more likely that the pleasures of playing as Lara are more concerned with mastery and control of a body coded as female within a safe and unthreatening context. The language and imagery remains resolutely sexist and adolescent. However, Jones (2002) argues that "indirectly, these boys are accommodating shifting gender roles, building confidence that they can find even strong, challenging women attractive and that they wont be overwhelmed by their own fears as they deal with real girls." Jones sees these sexy and powerful female characters as providing complex resources for both fantasy and identification as stable gender roles are eroded. Playing as Lara, enables engagement with an active female fantasy figure, providing opportunities for exploration of alternative versions of themselves. He argues that although "these kids may approach their bad girls as objects at first, as the game or movie or the tv show begins to unfold, they are clearly identifying with them" (2002). Even the apparent use of sexist imagery within the fan culture does not necessarily foreclose a feminist reading of playing as Lara. Jones goes on to argue that young men often choose to play games as a female character (when provided the choice or given the opportunity to design their own) as it enables them to experience a greater range of emotional complexity. For Jones, the popularity of these games and the female characters is a positive sign of greater gender flexibility and a general license to experiment with alternative identities. (2002).

But we are still some way from a full analysis of the game/player interaction. It may be that the relationship between player and game character advances in phases as the player becomes increasingly proficient at working the controls. As this proficiency or expertise develops the game character may become an extension of the player herself and Lara's separateness as a female body is eventually obliterated. "Engagement is what happens when we are able to give ourselves over to a representational action, comfortably and unambiguously. It involves a kind of complicity, we agree to think and feel in terms of both the content and conventions of a mimetic context. In return, we gain a plethora of new possibilities and a kind of emotional guarantee" (Laurel 1993). Thus the technology (including Lara) becomes a mask which signals our participation in an artificial and immersive reality and simultaneously "signals that we are role-playing rather than acting as ourselves' (Murray 1997). As a liminal space the game world allows a transgression of social and cultural norms – as an act of play we recognize the time spent playing as separate to other forms of interaction and unbound by conventional rules of behaviour. When what Murray describes as "the symbolic drama" reaches a level of intensity we become compelled to complete the game, often neglecting other activities in order to do so. The sense of presence we experience within the game world means that it can be hard to "jack out" of the game sensorium and attend to mundane matters. Thus, potentially, the fact that the polygons within the game are arranged in such a way as to denote a female body adds becomes an extra dimension in developing an understanding of the game playing experience.

For the female game player, these complex and visceral experiences may provide further opportunities for the gratification of fantasies of omnipotence and may allow for empathic experience of the pleasures of exploration and adventure which are absent in the real world. This may even be enhanced by the possibilities of identification with the game character – "empathy is subject to the same emotional safety net as engagement –we experience the characters" emotions as if they were our own, but not quite; the elements of "real" fear and pain are absent" (Laurel 1993)[4] . From this we might also speculate that some of the desperate re-encoding of Lara as "sex object" - on the part of male players - may arise from an anxiety over the fact that these experiences are mediated by a female character and thus signify an attempt to deny any empathy/identification with Lara.

Virtual Lara: Cyborg Embodiment

Don't look at the Idoru's face. She is not flesh; she is information. She is the tip of an iceberg, no an Antartica, of information…she was some unthinkable volume of information. She induced the nodal vision in some unprecedented way; she induced it as narrative. (Gibson 1996)

In 1996, Kyoko Date – another virtual character – released a single in Japan. She was created by the Visual Science Lab in Japan and was promoted through a successful talent agency Hori Pro. Kyoko's personality and performance were scripted and controlled in exactly the same way as Stock, Aitken and Waterman managed and controlled the identity and image of Kylie Minogue or Jason Donovan. As virtual commodities invested with a specifically human backstory and personality it could be argued that Date & Lara destabilize the reality of more human idols. It could be argued that Madonna is no more real or approachable than Lara or Date. In a sense, Lara the game character is no more virtual than the images of real movie or pop stars: they too are representations which are carefully managed. Gibson's Idoru, published in 1996 at the same time as the launch of Tomb Raider and Date, pivots around the romance between a real rock star and Idoru herself , a virtual performer/artist.

The Idoru appears omniscient within this story. She is able to reflect and respond to whoever she communicates with – each encounter with her is particular to the interlocutor and Idoru herself demonstrates no central subjective coherence – she is as depthless as a mirror. The same is true of Lara, who will perform differently (and reflect differently) depending on the skill and proficiency of the player. These virtual "babes" are ludic postmodern signifiers par excellence (Morton 1999),endlessly available for resignification, and providing multiple possibilities for narcissistic pleasure. When the game is mastered the player experiences Lara's mobility, agility and athleticism as his or her own. The creation and maintenance of a fairly complex backstory for Lara is an attempt to secure control of her virtual identity – she is a commercial product after all. Providing Lara with a (fairly) plausible history gives her some ontological coherence and helps to enhance the immersion of the player in the Tomb Raider world, and abets the identification with Lara. What Idoru, Lara and Date all highlight is the willingness on the part of real humans to invest erotically in fictional characters. It could potentially be argued that this is in no way a new insight — people have always invested emotionally in literary, film and television characters. This could also be seen to underline the fact that male sexual desire and fantasy are always bound up in an image of femininity which is virtual (in the sense that it is not real). Femininity is thus finally exposed as an empty signifier, a sign without a referent.

These occasions for both virtual embodiment and "erotic interfacing"(Springer 1999) need to be more fully understood as complex experiences in their own right.

"The phantasmic mobility of virtual bodies not only satisfies our infantile desires for omnipotence and omnipresence, but can provide hallucinatory satisfaction to those whose real body's mobility is impaired in some way" (Sofia 1999). This celebration of virtuality is also premised on an understanding that "computers are machines for producing postmodern forms of subjectivity" (Sofia 1999) and that these may help to bring about the collapse of other more oppressive subjectivities. As with the examples above, these more celebratory readings remain somewhat utopian in the face of the extent of the proliferation of virtual female bodies which are mere "objects". "Lara Croft is the monstrous offspring of science, an idealized eternally young female automaton, a malleable, well-trained technopuppet created by and for the male gaze" (Schleiner 2000). Technology becomes a means of extending or transcending the body as the final site of the monstrous feminine other, as well as providing opportunities for the playing out of fantasies of conquest and control of this "other." These hypersexualized versions of virtual femininity are strategies of containment which need to be understood as such. The trenchant encoding of the technological imaginary as a masculine preserve and the positioning of femininity as an aesthetic rather than agentic (i.e. the player is the agent) presence within this landscape serves to maintain the exclusion of girls and women from the pleasures of the interface, erotic or otherwise.

These virtual "babes" are not welcomed by some feminists. Elaine Showalter argues that "since the computerized cover girls are patched together from the best features of real models and stars no real woman can ever hope to equal them; but their popularity… nonetheless is part of the millennial taste, for elaborate feminine artifice, especially an artifice shrewdly designed to look natural" (Sunday Times, 10 June 2001:6). Like the earlier discussion around transgendering, this elaborate artifice could serve to underline the very constructedness of conventional ideals of femininity. However, Showalter and others fear that we will have a generation of young girls who grow up even more dissatisfied with their own bodies and who are willing to make more and more drastic interventions in order to recraft their bodies in line with these impossible images, there is a sad irony in the idea that real women are more and more likely to use technology in order to become more like virtual women who fundamentally are just technology. "More generally, Croft and the cybermodels epitomize the era of power grooming. No longer can women depend on a dab of powder and lipstick before they face the public" (Showalter 2001).

In the end it is impossible to securely locate Lara within existing feminist frameworks, nor is it entirely possible to just dismiss her significance entirely. These readings demonstrate the range of potential subversive readings, but there exists no real "extra-textual" evidence to back this up – hence the focus on the text itself, which is on its own inadequate to explore the range of pleasures available from playing as Lara – we can only conjecture. The girl gaming community which communicates via the internet has its own highly critical discourse about the imagery and content within computer games. They not only complain about the degree of sexist portrayals of women but also bemoan the stupidity of many female games characters and lack of strong female leaders in role playing games.[5] This critique must be acknowledged and addressed by designers and producers of games if they intend to attract and retain this audience.

Where are the game companies that say its okay to be girl who doesn't think like one? ... I refuse to be charted like a map, and confined to several "common" characteristics. I am uncommon. Make games for me.(Douglas 1998)

If we are going to encourage more girls into the gaming culture then we need to encourage the production of a broader range of representations of femininity than those currently being offered. We also need to offer a critique of the entire discourse around gaming which serves to create the illusion that it is a masculine preserve. Feminist film criticism has had an impact (albeit only to a limited extent) on the representation of women in cinema. This critique has inspired many writers and directors, both within and outside the Hollywood system, to increase the range of possible subject positions offered to women. It is similarly vital that in the construction of a critical discourse about games we encourage and stimulate innovative and alternative images of men and women that do not simply reinstate doggedly rigid gender stereotypes.

In this article, I have tried to be attentive to what might be different about the relationship between representations within the game world and the experience of playing the game. It is clear that games are an increasingly sophisticated representational and experiential medium and that we need analytical tools which are precise enough to capture both the similarities and the differences to other forms of leisure consumption. Simultaneously, it is becoming more and more evident that the interactive and immersive modes of engagement so central to gameplay are the model driving other forms of computer mediated consumption. This means that feminist theory cannot afford to ignore the games paradigm. By the same token, the politics of representation – and here I would extend this to racist and homophobic as well as sexist modes – is a vital issue which the games industry should not ignore.


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Sawicki, Jana (1991) Disciplining Foucault: Feminism, Power and the Body, Routledge.

Sawyer, Miranda (1997) "Lara Croft: The Ultimate Byte Girl", The Face.

Schleiner, Anne Marie (2000) "Does Lara Croft Ware Fake Polygons: Gender Analysis of the "1st person shooter/adventure game with female heroine' and Gender Role Subversion and Production in the Game Patch" available Switch: Electronic Gender: Art at the Interstice at http://switch.sjsu.edu/web/v4n1/annmarie.html. Accessed 19/06/01

Showalter, Elaine (10th June, 2001) The Sunday Times.

Shulusky, Edward In Love with Lara: Reflections on an Interactive It-Girl, http://www.tombraiders.com/lara_croft/Essays/Edward_Shulusky/default.htm accessed 19/06/01

Sobchack, Vivian (1987) Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film. NY: Ungar.

Sofia, Zoe (1999) "Virtual Corporeality: A Feminist View", pp.55-68 in J. Wolmark (ed) Cybersexualities: A Reader on Feminist Theory, Cyborgs and Cyberspace. Edinburgh University Press.

Springer, Claudia (1999) "The Pleasure of the Interface" , pp. 34-54 in J. Wolmark (ed) Cybersexualities: A Reader on Feminist Theory, Cyborgs and Cyberspace. Edinburgh University Press.

The Matrix, (1999) The Wachowski Brothers.

Thelma & Louise (1991) Ridley Scott

Turkle, Sherry (1984) The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. NY: Simon & Schuster.

Ward Gailey, Christine (1994) "Mediate Messages: Gender, Class, and Cosmos in Home Video Games", Journal of Popular Culture 27 (4): 81-97.

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Endnotes:

[1] Sony are alleged to have invested $500 million in the hardware behind the Playstation and a further $500 million in the software. These figures are quoted in The Face (1997) but also in Poole (2001).

[2] See Poole (2001), Herz (1997) but ample evidence for this address to a male audience is provided in early marketing campaigns and was certainly a factor in the Tomb Raider adverts. This is most particularly evident in the "Where the Boys Are" advertising campaign for Tomb Raider II.

[3] For an overview of the complex debates around Thelma & Louise see Read, Jacinda (1999), "Popular Film/Popular Feminism: The Critical Reception of the Rape-Revenge Film" 29.11.99. in Scope Online Journal www.nottingham.ac.uk/film/journal/articles/popular_feminism.htm (http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/film/journal/articles/popular_feminism.htm)

[4] The degree to which fear and pain are not experienced by the player is debatable. I know that my heart rate rockets, my palms sweat, I leap out of my chair and develop callouses on my thumbs . The experience of playing Tomb Raider has often left me shaken and exhausted.

[5] For some fairly typical examples of this discourse see www.grrlgamer.com (http://www.grrlgamer.com) & www.chiq.net (http://www.chiq.net)

Encore
04-10-09, 01:48
I think she helps, yes. Let's not be naive, the majority of the population only knows Lara Croft by her image and not because she's a brave and independent woman. And her image is meant to appeal to men and what they perceive as a perfect body. Videogames are mostly aimed at a male audience and this reflects on how every single female videogame character is portrayed... "Over sexualized". :p Lara is not an exception.

Ward Dragon
04-10-09, 02:17
Personally I don't think Lara promotes sexism despite that a few of the games push the limits of good taste (for example, her moaning in AOD and that dress in Legend). Plenty of games with male leads have the main character topless and very attractive-looking (for example Sands of Time) and that's not sexist against men. I think that because of Lara's strong personality and her complete indifference to her attractiveness she's a great character. On the other hand, I hate female characters who use their bodies to get what they want because that to me does seem like objectification.

Tear
04-10-09, 06:40
No, I do not think Lara comes across as sexist. If anything, she's proving otherwise, she's proving she can shoot a gun and be around climbing and doing anything a man can do.

Exactly,;) but without knowing the character, you'd think she comes across as sexist.

:)I just wish people knew the character...

takamotosan
04-10-09, 07:12
Sure Lara is hot, but she'll ****ing rip your genitals off if you try and touch her. ;)

So no, I don't think she's sexist. Her attitude exudes "don't even try. you can't have me"

iamlaracroft
04-10-09, 07:45
Just for the sake of clarity: Lara is not a sexist.*
Being sexist and being the product of sexism are two totally different things.


*Actually, for all we know she very well could be. Who knows. But that's a whole 'nother topic.

woody543
04-10-09, 08:49
I don't think she does, to most people she is just a large pair of boobs, which is actually a form of sexual objectification, now whether this is infact a form of sexism is debatable.

However those who actually play the games will realise that she is a very intelligent, strong, single, female and therefore she doesn't conote sexism, and some could argue she actually conotes a femminist image.

pEhouse
04-10-09, 09:36
Why must a woman promote sexism just because she's wearing fairly short clothes? Lara does everything men do, and even better at that, if anything she should be the spokesperson for feminist movement!

CroftGameGirl
04-10-09, 09:42
I personally think she doesn't :)
Just because she has extensive knowledge of sports, fire arms, world history and geography and wanders around in occasionally skimpy outfits and never letting men even get near her, doesn't mean she promotes sexism.
I personally think that if anything, she may promote female rights :tmb:

What about all those guys in video games? Fighting extensively, bearing huge muscles in tight tops (XD) and occasionally having such a 'bad-ass' attitude etc. What do you think they may promote?
:)
Hope that all made sense :p

Kelly Craftman
04-10-09, 09:47
i personally think that game creaters only think that guys play games :pi:
the women in games always have to have a sex appeal about them, lets face it a guy woundn't play as a obese women, would they? :rolleyes:

illuminati30
04-10-09, 10:46
She is a big pair of boobs if that's all you look at, and people who have not played the games,well that's all they know about her. People who have played the games realise that Lara is actually a feminist and an ambassador for strong women. Lara Croft does not hamper the feminist movement, she drives it through. Now the feminists will get nowhere if they get upset by a womans natural assests. People are attracted to her because of her strong character. They are not playing the game sitting jacking off in the corner. Well some might be, but they are not the majority, far from it.

Dina_Croft
04-10-09, 12:07
Hell yeah!:tmb:

She's tha BOMB...:p

trXD
04-10-09, 12:10
Because she's sexy that makes her a sexist icon? Everything else about her apart from being sexy is empowering, its just plain stupid to say she's sexist because of the way she looks.

xXhayleyroxXx
04-10-09, 12:14
no way xx

Lavinder
04-10-09, 12:17
She is a big pair of boobs if that's all you look at, and people who have not played the games,well that's all they know about her. People who have played the games realise that Lara is actually a feminist and an ambassador for strong women. Lara Croft does not hamper the feminist movement, she drives it through. Now the feminists will get nowhere if they get upset by a womans natural assests. People are attracted to her because of her strong character. They are not playing the game sitting jacking off in the corner. Well some might be, but they are not the majority, far from it.

Who says she's a feminist?

Punaxe
04-10-09, 12:22
I think 'sexism' is not the correct term for this issue, but I think we all know what we're talking about anyway so I'll go with it.

Promote? Maybe not. But I'm pretty sure "she" follows or at least has followed the "sex sells" formula. But then again, it simply is the case that some people buy things because of certain "bestial" appeal, and that this appeal grows when certain characteristics are present. Why should anything be wrong with this reality? And why should people not be given what they want?

(Open to answers to those questions, I'd to like to think about it a bit more.)

illuminati30
04-10-09, 13:04
Who says she's a feminist?

Not a feminist as such. Not of the burning the bra kind, but i think she has done a lot for women in acting to balance the scales of equality. Perhaps that's a pretty big thing to say for a games character, but there you go, and also reflect back to 1990s, the age of Lara Croft and Spice Girl 'girl power'. Anyone woman who can behave as a man would and pull it off, is acting to do that, whether people like it or not. They are saying 'hey if its fine for a man, it's fine for me also, and if you can do it, so can I'. A bit like Madonna. She doesn't burn her bra as such, but she does not conform to the boundaries of what people expect to be "acceptable" for women. In fact she is not doing anything men do not do. More of a subtle feminist. Not the type to come out screaming and shouting about female rights, not the kind offended by this that and the other thing (i.e. woman's breasts), and they are the most powerful.

Ikas90
04-10-09, 13:11
I don't see any sex discrimination in Tomb Raider.

Encore
04-10-09, 15:30
I think 'sexism' is not the correct term for this issue, but I think we all know what we're talking about anyway so I'll go with it.

Promote? Maybe not. But I'm pretty sure "she" follows or at least has followed the "sex sells" formula. But then again, it simply is the case that some people buy things because of certain "bestial" appeal, and that this appeal grows when certain characteristics are present. Why should anything be wrong with this reality? And why should people not be given what they want?

(Open to answers to those questions, I'd to like to think about it a bit more.)

Personally I just think that the typical video game female promotes unrealistic expectations about a woman's body and what it should look like, it's pretty much along the lines of advertising and fashion industries on that area.

larson n natla
04-10-09, 15:52
I think she promoted feminism tbh shes does everything your typical male protagonist does but better :p

tonyme
04-10-09, 15:56
Sure Lara is hot, but she'll ****ing rip your genitals off if you try and touch her. ;)

So no, I don't think she's sexist. Her attitude exudes "don't even try. you can't have me"

This. :tmb:

SamReeves
04-10-09, 16:02
LOL, Lara's meant to be fun, not like Gloria Stinem. Long live dual pistols, and jiggly boobies.

Squibbly
04-10-09, 16:20
^ Can you ever say anything else? :rolleyes:

I do not think Lara promotes sexism. The difference between Lara and most other female video game characters is that she is a very strong protagonist who doesn't use what she has to get what she wants. She isn't a victim or a tag-along you have to protect, which is something I'm sick of in games. Those are things I always thought were special about her.

We've had some questionable things happen throughout the TR series (that awful Japan dress for example), but the point is that she doesn't use her body or acknowledge anything about those kinds of things.

Punaxe
04-10-09, 16:29
Personally I just think that the typical video game female promotes unrealistic expectations about a woman's body and what it should look like, it's pretty much along the lines of advertising and fashion industries on that area.

Expectations? I think everyone realizes that Lara is not a real woman. The thing is, (some of) people's wishes probably already are unrealistic. They may like large breats but clearly not every woman has them. But Lara does, and that's why they like her. I don't think it means anything for their real-world expectations. I think wishes for fantasy and dream are different from wishes for real life, as we tend to exaggarate in our fantasies. I would argue that they like Lara for fantasy, not for real-world purposes and the two do not influence each other.

January_Snow*
04-10-09, 16:30
No, in my oppinion even contrary, Lara shows how you dont have to be ugly and unatractive to be a powerfull woman...wich is a prejudice most of people today have...

aileenwuornos
05-10-09, 04:04
Not a feminist as such. Not of the burning the bra kind, but i think she has done a lot for women in acting to balance the scales of equality. Perhaps that's a pretty big thing to say for a games character, but there you go, and also reflect back to 1990s, the age of Lara Croft and Spice Girl 'girl power'. Anyone woman who can behave as a man would and pull it off, is acting to do that, whether people like it or not. They are saying 'hey if its fine for a man, it's fine for me also, and if you can do it, so can I'. A bit like Madonna. She doesn't burn her bra as such, but she does not conform to the boundaries of what people expect to be "acceptable" for women. In fact she is not doing anything men do not do. More of a subtle feminist. Not the type to come out screaming and shouting about female rights, not the kind offended by this that and the other thing (i.e. woman's breasts), and they are the most powerful.

Oh dear, I've said it once and I'll say it again - members of the Women's Liberation movement never burned bras.

Personally I just think that the typical video game female promotes unrealistic expectations about a woman's body and what it should look like, it's pretty much along the lines of advertising and fashion industries on that area.

This.

In theory Lara Croft could make an excellent feminist icon, in actuality, her unrealistic image, white privilege blah blah blah make her not very feminist at all. But she's my childhood hero and not-so-guilty pleasure so I'm just gonna say, yes, she is.

LaraLuvrrr
05-10-09, 04:06
She's feminist not sexist... there's a difference ;) tell that to your teacher

ECB
05-10-09, 04:31
No. She's just a sexy woman raiding tombs! She doesn't say women are only meant to look good.

Mikky
05-10-09, 12:08
okay so in class today we were choosing topics for a project. I (and some other kids) chose sexism. Some of the other students didnt quite understand their topic so they asked the teacher for some clarification. I overheard them speaking of how the media relates to sexism and my teacher mentioned Lara Croft Tomb Raider. He spoke of how videogames have a large breasted woman running around in a skimpy outfit. Basically saying Lara Croft is sexist.

I mean it does make sense right?....I can see how Lara comes across as a sexist video game character but I think theres some kind of a balance. Sure she's "made for guys" but she's also independent and strong.

I guess it varies on the person judging the character.....

Okay so I want to know what you think.....

Im mostly interested on a female point of view :pi:

If I met that teacher, I would kick his ass! Lara is not sexist in any way or form! She is the complete opposite! What a silly thing to say!

Dennis's Mom
05-10-09, 12:12
Why must a woman promote sexism just because she's wearing fairly short clothes? Lara does everything men do, and even better at that, if anything she should be the spokesperson for feminist movement!

Exactly. If I had a dollar for every person who pointed to the "classic" outfit and said Lara was only wearing shorts and a tank top to make the boys look at her . . . .:rolleyes: Women wear that outfit every day in Texas, and I daresay more than a few wear it because it's appropriate for the activity and climate.

I've always thought Lara, particularly the pure Lara as originally represented, was anything but sexist. She's a woman who plays by her own rules, does her own thing regardless of society's expectations. I'm fond of this quote: Feminism is the belief that women are people. I think Lara typifies that. I don't think she considers her ovaries as she makes her choices. She's a person defined by her intellect, and as such her sex doesn't enter into it. She's a person first in her mind.

The newer games have certainly tried the "sex sells" concept on Lara with Legend's cheerleader outfits and Japan dress, but I don't think it rings true to the character. It feels false ( and it looks dumb.)

The fact that Lara is beautiful doesn't bother me, nor should too much should be read into it. Video games to a large extent are about idealization, and so what if this character won the genetic lottery? Some women do in real life. Am I suppose to shake my fist and cry "You can't represent us! You're too beautiful!" By insisting that the pretty girl can't be "one of us" doesn't that fullfill every catty female stereotype out there? Mee-oow!

Nerd For Life
05-10-09, 12:17
Exactly. If I had a dollar for every person who pointed to the "classic" outfit and said Lara was only wearing shorts and a tank top to make the boys look at her . . . .:rolleyes: Women wear that outfit every day in Texas, and I daresay more than a few wear it because it's appropriate for the activity and climate.

I've always thought Lara, particularly the pure Lara as originally represented, was anything but sexist. She's a woman who plays by her own rules, does her own thing regardless of society's expectations. I'm fond of this quote: Feminism is the belief that women are people. I think Lara typifies that. I don't think she considers her ovaries as she makes her choices. She's a person defined by her intellect, and as such her sex doesn't enter into it. She's a person first in her mind.

The newer games have certainly tried the "sex sells" concept on Lara with Legend's cheerleader outfits and Japan dress, but I don't think it rings true to the character. It feels false ( and it looks dumb.)

The fact that Lara is beautiful doesn't bother me, nor should too much should be read into it. Video games to a large extent are about idealization, and so what if this character won the genetic lottery? Some women do in real life. Am I suppose to shake my fist and cry "You can't represent us! You're too beautiful!" By insisting that the pretty girl can't be "one of us" doesn't that fullfill every catty female stereotype out there? Mee-oow!

*applause* I couldn't have said it better myself! :D

patriots88888
05-10-09, 12:30
Does Lara Croft promote sexism?

In the truest sense, Lara doesn't promote anything. She's merely an extention of someone else's viewpoint of what she (and possibly women in general) should be. That being said, the only ones I see promoting anything are those who sell the games and those who see what they wish to see. Nothing more, nothing less.

Reckless Lara
05-10-09, 13:09
I think she helps, yes. Let's not be naive, the majority of the population only knows Lara Croft by her image and not because she's a brave and independent woman. And her image is meant to appeal to men and what they perceive as a perfect body. Videogames are mostly aimed at a male audience and this reflects on how every single female videogame character is portrayed... "Over sexualized". :p Lara is not an exception.

Sure, I agree but lets consider the marketing point. It would not be attractive to consumers' eye If Lara was just an heroine with long and thick clothes, or with a regular body that a majority of girls have. People today want extraordinary things , they need extraordinary things. So no Lara doesnt promote sexism in my opinion:)

Lizard of Oz
05-10-09, 15:37
okay so in class today we were choosing topics for a project. I (and some other kids) chose sexism. Some of the other students didnt quite understand their topic so they asked the teacher for some clarification. I overheard them speaking of how the media relates to sexism and my teacher mentioned Lara Croft Tomb Raider. He spoke of how videogames have a large breasted woman running around in a skimpy outfit. Basically saying Lara Croft is sexist.

I mean it does make sense right?....I can see how Lara comes across as a sexist video game character but I think theres some kind of a balance. Sure she's "made for guys" but she's also independent and strong.

I guess it varies on the person judging the character.....

Okay so I want to know what you think.....

Im mostly interested on a female point of view :pi:

If this is the case, then every female chartacter, movie star, and top models are sexist....!?!?

jamieoliver22
05-10-09, 16:13
She's not sexist, if anything she breaks the typical sexist stereotypes.

Minty Mouth
05-10-09, 16:15
Is it not more sexist to think that lara is sexist, just because she is attractive?

TRhalloween
05-10-09, 16:19
In theory Lara Croft could make an excellent feminist icon, in actuality, her unrealistic image, white privilege blah blah blah make her not very feminist at all. But she's my childhood hero and not-so-guilty pleasure so I'm just gonna say, yes, she is.

Well that's a good point. Though the thing is, they can't suddenly change Lara into a less attractive, lower class girl who had to work her way up to the top. That would change who she is.

Nerd For Life
05-10-09, 16:29
Well that's a good point. Though the thing is, they can't suddenly change Lara into a less attractive, lower class girl who had to work her way up to the top. That would change who she is.

Very good point.

CroftGameGirl
05-10-09, 18:16
Is it not more sexist to think that lara is sexist, just because she is attractive?

I like this point. :tmb:
Quite true, I think.

Laras shadow
05-10-09, 18:19
lara is not sexist she is an idol for women cause she's strong and can kick a guy's ass and can do everything a guy can. Fair enough sometimes the camera moves the wrong way and her outfit's look skimpy but she doesn't dress inapropriatly :D

adventurerLara
05-10-09, 18:22
No, she promotes the exact opposite. Her image can be misrepresented or perceived incorrectly by others, those are the sexists.

SamuelCroft
05-10-09, 18:28
I was about to write no way! But then I read Encode's post on the first page. I think he makes a fair point. Anytime I mention her, most people just think 'sexy stiff upper lip'. People who play the game I'm very sure will have images of sexy lady does everything a man does or thoughts to that effect. The way she portrayed in mags and adverts is mainly ass and boobs. That's how I see it personally, and will stand corrected if someone shows me otherwise.

Please don't hate me for saying this... but if she was less attractive, it would probably have a better effect. [and make the game less enjoyable!]

Super Badnik
05-10-09, 18:32
No, saying Lara Croft is sexist is always utterley pathetic. Mostly because the only piece of "evidence" for the sexism is that she is sexy. And by the way, compared to other female videogame characters, Lara Croft is not a revealing character.

Lara's home
05-10-09, 18:32
Well, according to most people everywhere, women shouldn't be allowed to have big breasts and great looking bodies, and least of all, cleavage or anything to look sexy, because it makes girls insecure.
I think Lara Croft shows that you can be sexy and inteligent, and that you can be sexy without being slutty. Beyonetta promotes soem sexism imo, but not Lara.
She knocks a lot of stereotypes down (Smart girls are ugly, Sexy girls/women are slutty and stupid). But then again, she is just a video game character, so I'm not too bothered either way.

I find it worse with teh male characters. All are pretty much the same. (Tough, strong guy, who doesn't show emotions.. EVER, unless it's something funny or anger he feels). I don't really care about that either, since.. It's just a game.
I was about to write no way! But then I read Encode's post on the first page. I think he makes a fair point. Anytime I mention her, most people just think 'sexy stiff upper lip'. People who play the game I'm very sure will have images of sexy lady does everything a man does or thoughts to that effect. The way she portrayed in mags and adverts is mainly ass and boobs. That's how I see it personally, and will stand corrected if someone shows me otherwise.

Same with the gays and the girls if you mention Chris from RE5 or Drake from UC1/2. They probably wont go and say "Oh that adventure guy who is pretty inteligent and funny too."
They are just a much smaller group, so it's not as noticable.

Biddy
05-10-09, 19:15
I'd say that her attitude contradicts her given image, it's a 'hot chick but she'll rip of your balls!' type of thing. :p

Chocola teapot
05-10-09, 19:23
Nah.

Legends
05-10-09, 19:37
Life is visual. Everyone likes pretty things, but she's not supporting sexism. That's such a lame word to use. Everyone that has something good needs to be doing something wrong. The real question is, why does the person ask this question? It's more likely that this person is guilty of sexism and is trying to find something that will fit his vision.

NightWish
05-10-09, 20:02
I think your teacher mistakes sexism for feminism. Lara doesnt show that women are better then man or the other way around. She is a symbol of feminism, showing that in a man's world a woman can everything as good as men.

Alex Shepherd
05-10-09, 20:23
No, I do not think Lara comes across as sexist. If anything, she's proving otherwise, she's proving she can shoot a gun and be around climbing and doing anything a man can do.

Sorry as for giving ignorance to others posts not knowing if others agreed at this point or not, but since that would take time to read all the posts but I still didn't ignore them as well...

But sorry to say this Nerd, you're absolutely wrong, you mentioned that Lara Croft didn't comes across as sexiest, but let's try to count the fact points.

1) Original Lara Croft classical pictures some of them shown as a very sexy body.

2) A reason of why Toby Gard abandon his company on working with a Lara Croft sexiest model.

Originally employed at Core Design, he designed the original Tomb Raider video game in 1995 along with the character Lara Croft. His work on the game included building and animating most of the game's characters (including Lara), animating the in-game cutscenes, storyboarding the FMV's, and managing the level designers. Core gave Gard creative control over the game, although it was clear they wanted to market Lara's sex appeal, even asking Gard to implement a nude code into the game which he refused to do[3]. His vision for Lara was "a female character who was a heroine, you know, cool, collected, in control, that sort of thing" and that "it was never the intention to create some kind of 'page 3' girl to star in Tomb Raider"[4].

3) Speaking about the games inside, you must know some outfits like TR2, TR3 just affect some guys and lesbian's reaction inside their body as I am guy, I actually concentrate too much on her legs every-time I play her.

4) As long as the movie is for the teenagers, as the TR first movie also shown some sexiest scene while AJ was taking a bath, and TR2 when she start making interesting thing with Brad.

5) Also don't forget the next generation came as to speak about Legend for her bonus outfit for Bikini with different colors ;)

So doesn't that actually tells you something that comes across as sexist video game character?

jackles
05-10-09, 21:47
So a women cannot be attractive and yet be strong and promote a pro female image?

I hate all the bikini cobblers....it bores me. It is not how I see Lara. I only see the strong independant woman.


Most games makers are men so there is bound to be a 'sexy' angle to Lara. But Lara isn't playing 'cooking mama', she is out there doing her thing.

Alex Shepherd
05-10-09, 21:50
So a women cannot be attractive and yet be strong and promote a pro female image?

I hate all the bikini cobblers....it bores me. It is not how I see Lara. I only see the strong independant woman.


Most games makers are men so there is bound to be a 'sexy' angle to Lara. But Lara isn't playing 'cooking mama', she is out there doing her thing.

What about when the first time she meets Kurtis?! :vlol: I think it was a very surprise of her when she just feel that life experience and move her attraction... :vlol: They were on kissing each other :D

But that's not wrong it's a positive thing ;)

jackles
05-10-09, 21:58
*shrugs*So kurtis is a sex object then.......


Sexism is where a woman/man is portrayed in a lesser role. I don't see that at all. Don't confuse sexuality with women/men being demeaned. You can be a sexual being without losing your strong identity.

Minty Mouth
05-10-09, 22:02
Sex Appeal=/=Sexist

Dennis's Mom
05-10-09, 22:17
So a women cannot be attractive and yet be strong and promote a pro female image?

Of course not. Possession of a female body at all is construed as a come on, much less an attractive one.

"Honi soit qui mal y pense." Evil be to those who think it.

jackles
05-10-09, 22:20
Quick ladies...get the sack cloth and ashes....and you at the back....no looking sexy and enticing men into the ways of sin because you are female!!!!!!!!



:cln:

SamuelCroft
05-10-09, 22:45
Same with the gays and the girls if you mention Chris from RE5 or Drake from UC1/2. They probably wont go and say "Oh that adventure guy who is pretty inteligent and funny too."
They are just a much smaller group, so it's not as noticable.

I would fall into that category, and you're right. I wouldn't say that. Mainly because I don't think that of them, but I accept your point.

I was chatting this over with my friend Gary, and we came to the conclusion that sexism is the devaluation of a gender as a whole, and their ability to contribute to society. In this context, I don't believe that Lara Promotes sexism in any way, and would retract my earlier point of how she is advertised. I still don't like the way she is portrayed in the media as ass and boobs, but I think that is neither sexist, nor relevant to this discussion. Having a beautiful woman as the protagonist of a game doesn't say she is inferior to men, Just that she is sexy. To 'draw in' the target market?

patriots88888
05-10-09, 23:00
Somehow I think this has become more about member's personal views of women in general and less about Lara! :p

Lara is just a video game character and much unlike 'women in the real world'. She is based in fantasy, not reality. She is only what we perceive her to be. What that is, is left to interpretation by the viewer and the viewer only. Because of that, no one can unequivocally say, 'this is how Lara is and what she's all about. No exceptions'! It's much the same as a character in a novel. Not every reader's interpretations and perceptions will be exactly the same.

So this thread leaves the door wide open and much out there in regards to the OP's question, which has neither a right nor a wrong answer.

LaraLuvrrr
06-10-09, 00:21
I think Hillary should be the new Tomb Raider :pi:

she can crush some male parts... with just her stare!

Tyrannosaurus
06-10-09, 00:40
My knowledge of feminist theory is limited and skewed, but I think, given the mishandling of Tomb Raiders' marketing, the Internet fallout, and the general opinion of Lara Croft held by non-fans, Lara is generally more of a sexist stereotype of an impossible male fantasy. I know that body image related self-esteem and eating issues are just as common among the gamer demographic as they are among the people who read fashion magazines, and Lara Croft is certainly not helping.

No, in my oppinion even contrary, Lara shows how you dont have to be ugly and unatractive to be a powerfull woman...wich is a prejudice most of people today have...

I disagree. I think people almost always assosciate power with physical attraction. Now I don't consider muscular women to be necessarily ugly myself, but if Lara were actually portrayed as a bit more amazonian . . . you know, a hardbody with small breasts and actual musculature instead of a supermodel, so that she would be capable of doing the things that she does, and the sex angle of the marketing was downplayed entirely, would she still be considered sexy? I hope so. The gaming world doesn't seem to be as confident, though, and what would be needed to bolster such confidence would be the innovation to go against such stereotypes. I really wouldn't mind seeing a video game populated with characters who look like actual people.

Ward Dragon
06-10-09, 22:08
Exactly. If I had a dollar for every person who pointed to the "classic" outfit and said Lara was only wearing shorts and a tank top to make the boys look at her . . . .:rolleyes: Women wear that outfit every day in Texas, and I daresay more than a few wear it because it's appropriate for the activity and climate.

I've always thought Lara, particularly the pure Lara as originally represented, was anything but sexist. She's a woman who plays by her own rules, does her own thing regardless of society's expectations. I'm fond of this quote: Feminism is the belief that women are people. I think Lara typifies that. I don't think she considers her ovaries as she makes her choices. She's a person defined by her intellect, and as such her sex doesn't enter into it. She's a person first in her mind.

The newer games have certainly tried the "sex sells" concept on Lara with Legend's cheerleader outfits and Japan dress, but I don't think it rings true to the character. It feels false ( and it looks dumb.)

The fact that Lara is beautiful doesn't bother me, nor should too much should be read into it. Video games to a large extent are about idealization, and so what if this character won the genetic lottery? Some women do in real life. Am I suppose to shake my fist and cry "You can't represent us! You're too beautiful!" By insisting that the pretty girl can't be "one of us" doesn't that fullfill every catty female stereotype out there? Mee-oow!

Very well said, particularly the part in bold :tmb: That's exactly how I see it. In the actual game itself, Lara is Lara. She knows who she is, she doesn't define herself by her gender and she's not out to make a statement. She just does what's right for her regardless of whether society agrees or disagrees. If she wants to go to an opera wearing a lovely gown, she'll do it even though that's the socially acceptable thing to do, and if she wants to go kill **** and steal a national treasure wearing a tank-top and shorts, she'll do that too even though it's frowned upon to say the least :p

Now, outside of the games, I think the advertising and reviews could be considered sexist to some extent since the majority of the focus is on Lara's T&A rather than her personality or the gameplay. However, that's fairly common and if I avoided every game/movie/show that was marketed that way then I'd miss out on a lot of good media.

I find it worse with teh male characters. All are pretty much the same. (Tough, strong guy, who doesn't show emotions.. EVER, unless it's something funny or anger he feels).

That's a good point. Male characters are usually stereotypical as well. It's extremely rare for a main character of either gender to be ugly (unless it's taken to the other extreme and the main character is some kind of non-human monster appealing to the "coolness" factor). I guess people like taking on the role of an attractive character (or just looking at one on the screen) so that's what sells.

if Lara were actually portrayed as a bit more amazonian . . . you know, a hardbody with small breasts and actual musculature instead of a supermodel, so that she would be capable of doing the things that she does, and the sex angle of the marketing was downplayed entirely, would she still be considered sexy?

That would be totally kick-ass :D I accepted that TR1-5 Lara was exaggerated due to limited graphical capabilities, but in the last few games with the much more realistic graphics it looks really really strange for Lara to be doing all of these tasks that require an insane amount of strength but she's got hardly any muscles :confused: I think it would be great for Lara to have more muscles in the future. She doesn't have to look like a weight lifter on steroids, but at least some muscle definition would be fantastic :tmb:

larafan25
06-10-09, 23:36
theres multiple ways to look at it, I mean obviously you teacher hasn't played very much tomb raider..........

we all know that lara represents girl power, and the female strength. she is strong smart and doesn't need a man to run her life and she is sexy, she is sexy and has a hot body. I don't think it is necessarily her body that makes her sexy though, yes it aids in her sexness but overall it IS the fact that she is a strong smart independant women.

I don't think sexism has any part in this at all, they aren't degrading lara they are encouraging women to allow themselves to feel sexy, the essense of lara although not always portrayed ingame is that she is that women that women want to be or men want to be around(or vise versa)

so, yes men created lara with large boobs and tight clothes that barely cover much of her, but they never promoted her as a piece of meat, there are some pretty close renders but overall the vision and idea of the lara croft character is to appeal to evyerone at that time and to impower women to do what they want, follow their dreams and allow themselves to feel sexy without having a man tell them they are.:)

msalpha2omega
06-10-09, 23:40
Lara sexy: YES!
Lara sexist: NOOOOOOOOOO!

larafan25
06-10-09, 23:44
lara herself wouldn't be sexist anyway, it would be the idea of her character or the peole who created her:)

Ward Dragon
06-10-09, 23:47
lara herself wouldn't be sexist anyway, it would be the idea of her character or the peole who created her:)

I'm pretty sure the OP meant, "Is it sexist how Lara is portrayed?" and not, "Is Lara a sexist character?" :)

aquaflute
07-10-09, 01:28
The OP said it very well. I think she has both elements as well. While she may promote sexism by her prominent phsique
with a strong and independent personality she can also stand for feminism. Depends on which side you want to focus on.

But I really think sexism or not it's really natural she has a physical look like that. I mean after all nearly all male action heroes got perfect bodies (you can argue that is sexism too, though female players are significantly lower in number). So why not female too?

larafan25
07-10-09, 01:29
I'm pretty sure the OP meant, "Is it sexist how Lara is portrayed?" and not, "Is Lara a sexist character?" :)

ya, I just was making sure, as more than one person phrased it like that...so:p

I guess it's kinda obvious:)

rowanlim
07-10-09, 03:48
Lara doesn't promote sexism; wielding guns & breaking into tombs aren't exactly traits of the traditional female. Her looks are just the vessel to combine toughness, wit & courage with a gorgeous face & body, nothing more.

xXhayleyroxXx
07-10-09, 10:42
Lara doesn't promote sexism; wielding guns & breaking into tombs aren't exactly traits of the traditional female. Her looks are just the vessel to combine toughness, wit & courage with a gorgeous face & body, nothing more.

what a great way of putting it! :hug:

msalpha2omega
07-10-09, 11:09
ya, I just was making sure, as more than one person phrased it like that...so:p

I guess it's kinda obvious:)

I actually meant "promote sexism", I got the point of this thread! I was just playing with the words! ;)

Jedd Fletcher
11-12-09, 10:39
I think the appeal of Lara Croft can definitely work both ways. She can be a sex symbol to some, a role model to others or even both. I just love the idea of an aristocratic woman who is also an ass-kicking adventuress and archaeologist. Anything a man can do, to paraphrase Annie Get Your Gun, she can do better. That's not sexist.

SamReeves
11-12-09, 17:18
Oh noes, we're worried about her boobs again! :hea:

Eeeeh, get over it. :whi:

Dark Lugia 2
11-12-09, 17:45
She isnt sexist in terms of attitude, but her image easily portrays sexism, as she's been designed with a near 'perfect' figure.

Icarus60
11-12-09, 18:00
I think Lara and political correctness should be kept as far away from each other as possible.