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Talkingship – Video Games, Movies, Music & Laughs | December 18, 2014

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GTA V’s Misogyny is…Sensible

GTA V’s Misogyny is…Sensible

| On 16, Sep 2013

Today there’s been a lot of complaints in the gaming press about GTA V‘s misogyny. To an extent, I can sympathise. If I was female, I’d find 7 million phallic references quite tiresome too, and the lack of a playable female character would also inevitably make me feel unrepresented. But when I think about it some more, GTA V‘s misogyny makes sense. Actually, I think it might be necessary.

You see, GTA has always been a semi-realistic crime game. The playable characters are, by and large, morally bankrupt criminals. The acts you commit over the course of the games are, by all accounts, despicable. Why? Because people like this unfortunately do exist in real life. There really are people who will murder hundreds in a gang war (although not on the same scale as GTA, of course). GTA is an exaggerated, satirical-yet-realistic take on the criminal world. I think that definition’s fairly unarguable.

And, unfortunately, in the criminal world there’s a hell of a lot of misogyny. It’s a very male dominated environment, and sexism is even worse than in the “normal” world. Thus I don’t find it at all surprising that there are numerous sexist jokes, terrible treatment of women from the main characters, and a whole host of penis-related humour. Because that’s what happens in the real crime world!

What this doesn’t justify is the lack of female characters. There should be female police officers, mothers/sisters and female criminals. In fact, a female character would have been lovely to play as. Rockstar could have explored the difficulty of a woman trying to fit into a man’s world, and it could have worked very well. Instead, they chose not to: the reasons for this we’ll never know.

Perhaps Rockstar chose to only have male characters because that will increase sale numbers. Perhaps it was innate sexism. Perhaps it was simply because the aforementioned theme of fitting in wasn’t one they wanted to explore in this game (I believe this is the reason). Rockstar shouldn’t have to include a female player character. But it would have been nice to include some other strong female figures, and it doesn’t seem like there are any.

The overall point of this article, then, is that a lot of the misogyny in GTA V can be justified: specifically, the way in which the characters treat women. But the lack of female characters is somewhat inexcusable. So we’re still left with a problem, but it’s a slightly smaller one than we started with. Progress!

  • Isabelle

    What the fuck? It is not justifiable, I feel like you forget that GTA is not the real world and so it doesn’t need to stay true to it. Have you even read some of the comments by these stupid little gaming boys. They’re foul and the reason they think like that is mostly because of the gaming world, both in the games and in the community.
    There is no need for comments in game from radio DJs in game talking about using a woman as a urinal. Not one fucking reason, and I wouldn’t be so riled up about it if there wasn’t so much complacency about the issue. There are very few comments from male gamers that find this attitude disturbing, many encourage it.

    The GTA series has never been moral, it’s never taught us that grand theft auto, that stealing, that killing is bad but for once it needs to step up and stop perpetuating the hate on woman because those little idiots aren’t going around stealing cars and committing homicide but they are taking on this misogynistic attitude for real. Having a vagina doesn’t make you any less or any more of a person. We’re all equals and it’s time the gaming world saw and embraced it.

  • Afreelunch

    I don’t find any misogyny sensible. Realistic perhaps, but that doesn’t make it any more acceptable, and I think it’s important not to encourage the sorts of people who think it’s “spineless” or “extremist” to consider how we treat gender in the media we consume.

  • Jonathan

    There’s no shortage of racism and homophobia in the criminal world. There’s also violence and cruelty against children that is too appalling to depict in a game. Obviously, there are limits to what developers can represent in a video game — moral limits, cultural limits, aesthetic limits. In my view, the degradation of women falls outside those limits. I’m afraid it is not ‘sensible’ or ‘justified’.

  • Jim_Watford

    Misogyny is to be expected, what I didn’t expect was the sheer amount of it, it’s non stop and gets boring very quickly. The writers have some serious issues they need to work through, have they all been through messy divorces or something? I’ve seen people excuse it as “satire”, if it was satire it would be poking fun at misogynistic attitudes, not celebrating them. GTA5 is a great game on all levels apart from the writing, the writing team have really let the side down.

  • antipropagandamachine

    Right. Because in the real world when men pay to exploit prostitutes it increases their health, possibly even curing them of STDs. I’m sure the American Medical Association has a journal somewhere supporting the healthy benefits of f*cking prostitutes.

  • Aaron Wise

    Congrats on being a terrible person, Rob.

  • TonyTone

    The game is a exaggerated satire of the real world, while I agree there is a problem, it does not lie within the game but in the real world its self. Yes many people do not find issue with the misogyny in the game, I am one of them, but for me that is because I know that this is a game, not reality. I take great issue with it in reality. The game is a piece of fiction that realizes how messed up the world is, and uses its self as a social commentary to show that. It’s not the game or Rockstar’s fault if the people get that message wrong.

  • Marcia Webb

    If it wasn’t for Misogyny I’d never get laid…I think I’ll make that into a song to the tune of “Date Rape”

    Do I get maximum points for the most horrible comment?

  • TimeStepper

    In my opinion, GTA V needed to be misogynist, just as it needed to be violent, cold-blooded and, at times, downright inhuman. It’s a game set in a horrible world – Los Santos is a disgusting place to live filled with disgusting people and I can think of fewer ways to portray wickedness and inhumanity that would serve better than the gross misogyny that is rife in GTA V. I enjoy this game, but I don’t for a moment pretend that it’s contents are anything to emulate in real life. What’s more, I don’t think the game is edgy or realistic in the slightest. In fact, I strongly believe GTA V is cartoon-like, completely over-the-top and just a little bit difficult to take seriously. And you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • TimeStepper

    Isabelle, I completely agree with your sentiments regarding some gamers and their immaturity. This game presents some horrible attitudes towards people in general and women in particular, which a lot of gamers just aren’t mature (or dare I say educated?) enough to deal with. Some people base their real world views on morals they pick up in video games and it’s these people who spoil the gamer image for the rest of us.

    And I’m male, but I play as a female in GTA Online because like a lot of people I do believe there could be room for a female protagonist in GTA – I just don’t believe she would be a particularly nice person, considering the world she’d be living in. My character is worse than Trevor sometimes ….

  • Vic 2.0

    I’d like to add to this that violence and criminal activity in general in the media has always had one thing in its favor: the consequences of participating in real life are easy to know and not easy to forget. If you commit a crime, you are likely to be thrown in jail or prison. If you become violent, you are likely to end up in jail, prison, a hospital or a cemetery. And we are all aware of this, 100% of the time.

    Compare this to sex and sexism and you will realize that these are deeds/misdeeds that people take part in in the “real world” quite frequently and irresponsibly, because the risks do not so obviously outweigh the (perceived) potential benefit. This is another reason why there is no need for this stuff in video games (in addition to them simply being irrelevant to the base purpose of games in general), because you stand to influence the player/viewer toward these wrongdoings more easily than you would influence them toward violence and crime. Paradoxically, a seeming promotion of something merely bad is worse than a seeming promotion of something awful.

    My two pennies, anyway.

  • Shaxster

    That’s a good point, and one that’s worth mentioning. Your two pennies are most welcome.