More Fat Princess

This is currently on Yahoo's front page:

It links to this article, in which they just nicked a quote from my original post. I'd be a lot happier if I made the front page of Yahoo as a feminist "outraged" by the treatment of Kobra Najjar, or any one of about a thousand other things about which I write. Sigh.

I continue to be amazed by the response to my raising objections to this game, and how few people can discern the difference between offended and contemptuous. An administration that makes torture the official policy of this nation offends me. A video game that uses a fat woman as a punchline arouses nothing but contempt.

A British gaming magazine interviewed me yesterday about my objections to the game. My responses are below, for anyone interested. I've no idea whether they'll ever get printed, given that I had a couple of conditions—namely, not being cast as the Feminist HystericTM. Included is one response is an explanation of why I won't be "eating crow" anytime in the near future.

[H/T to everyone in the multiverse. Previous Fat Princess: One, Two, Three, Four.]

Could you explain what you find so offensive about Fat Princess?

There are a few things I find objectionable about Fat Princess, but I'll stick with the obvious: The concept is hostile to fat women. The eponymous Fat Princess is an object of ridicule, and the source of her fatness—being fed endless amounts of food by her captors, which she cannot refuse because she has no agency—reinforces the myth that the singular cause of fatness is overeating. Whole books have been written debunking this myth. Of course there are people for whom compulsive overeating is the source of their fatness, which is as serious a psychological issue as compulsive undereating, despite our cultural failure to regard it thus. Anyone who understands why Anorexic Princess would not be considered an appropriate game should understand my objection to this one.

How do you respond to the common argument "it's just a game, and it's not meant to be taken seriously"?

It's a common criticism of feminism (or any similar social critique) that focusing on the "little things" is a waste of energy or resources, as if feminism could run out. The idea that feminism should be kept under glass, broken only in case of a "big" emergency, is predicated on the erroneous assumption that "the little things," like video games, happen in a void, but they don't. Fat Princess is part of the same culture in which the "big things" exist, like fat women making less money or being given sub-standard attention by healthcare providers. And, in a very real way, ignoring "the little things" makes the big ones that much harder to eradicate, because it is the pervasive, ubiquitous, inescapable little things that create the foundation of the culture on which the big stuff is dependent for its survival. It's the little things, the constant drumbeat of inequality and objectification, that inure us to increasingly horrible acts and attitudes toward fat women.

FP's developer recently said the concept art for the game was designed by a female. Does that change your views at all?

No. And the fact that it's being offered as a defense of the game is telling—the suggestion being that if a woman did the concept art for the game, that must mean other women shouldn't have reason to object. "Women" are hardly a monolithic group.

Do you think video games trail behind other mediums when it comes to sexist portrayals of females? If so why?

No—they're about on par with popular film and television, for example. The general lag is attributable in large part, as with other media, with insularity and lack of diversity in production. Genuine diversity necessitates actively recruiting women, LGBTQIs, and people of color who have a problem with the way women, LGBTQIs, and POC have been traditionally represented (or underrepresented) in games and want to infuse them with new visions, not just serve as tokens who put a new face on the same old shit.

Do you have a negative view of gamers who play video games containing sexist portrayals of women, even if they're playing the game in spite of such portrayals?

That's not really a yes or no question, because "sexist portrayals of women" is such an inexact phrase. There's clearly a fundamental difference between a game which merely fails to offer a comprehensive selection of female body types and a game in which only a male character can be played and the storyline tacitly or overtly encourages sexual violence against female characters.

Do you think it's possible to be a gamer and a feminist at the same time, given how hard it is to avoid games that sexualize their female characters?

Yes. I'm a gamer. My husband is a gamer. Many of our friends are gamers. I know plenty of other feminist gamers—women and men. But our choices are pretty limited—and no wonder, given the response to my original post on Fat Princess.

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