Friday, December 3, 2010

This just in: women actually aren't stupid

Dude, I was going to take a long weekend off from this shit. But then Louis Porter Jr came and posted this comment on my last post, and I’m almost constitutionally incapable of not responding, let alone responding concisely to this nonsense. (It’s a failing.) Hence the new post.

Anyway, before I start off, thanks to the fine folks on Story-Games who helped me refine my arguments. Much appreciated.

So here's the comment in question (emphasis mine):

This is going to be a two part answer.

First on the racial diversity of Paizo character design: Always a good thing. Being one of the few (if only) African-American (or Black if you like) RPG publishers I think it is a GOOD thing to show ethnic and racial diversity in the artwork. Paizo always kicks ass for that and I hope they continue to!

So, yes, thumbs up to Paizo for not being full of race fail. That’s great. Good for them. It’s so great that they are making efforts not to marginalize men of color. And if women of color feel marginalized, well, they should be used to much worse by now, right? None of this is going to change, so us wimmenz should just learn to suck it up and deal.

Yeah, I call bullshit. As a person of color, I would assume that you have some experience with feeling marginalized. Why then are you excited that Paizo is fighting one type of discrimination (racism) even as they simultaneously embrace another (sexism)? Doesn’t that seem a little hypocritical and more than a little privileged to you?

Second, women and sex appeal. Sorry but you lost me on that one. Paizo knows it market: majority male. And males (and some females) like scantily dressed women (which I am one).

Okay, aside from the issue of your grammar sucking (you just implied you were a scantily dressed woman), your argument sucks too. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

When doing my artwork for many of the females in my products, I over sexualize what they physically look like or what they are wearing. Why? Because it will cause males (my main base of customers) to stop and look and in the gaming of marketing that would be considered a WIN! Now would I over sexualize males and place them on the cover a product I created? ABSOLUTELY if it helped draw interest which in turn would equal additional sales. For me this is an issue of helping me generate sales. Sad but true.

But I do understand where you are coming from and I do support you so saying what you think is right.

Oh, thank you. I’m glad that you support my right to express an opinion on my own blog. That’s very gracious of you. I mean, I’ve been pretty nervous about criticizing large game publishers, so it’s very good to know that I have your permission. It’s quite gracious of you.

So, basically you’re saying I “lost you” with my complaints about Paizo’s sexist Pathfinder art because I’m not a man and therefore not part of Paizo’s target market. Does that mean that only men have the right to complain about Paizo’s art? I call bullshit on that too.

It’s clear that Paizo has made the marketing decision to pursue their “safe” market – horny conservative males - and to not really try to reach out to anyone outside that market. But the lack of success of these “experiments” that Paizo has done with non-sexist representations of women doesn’t prove a damn thing. I know TONS of women who were completely, COMPLETELY geeked about Seela's design. But then you pick up a Pathfinder book and go, wow, that's just the exception to the rule. Look at all this cheesecake! Which leads back to 'meh, this is just like all the rest, I’m going back to FarmVille'.

Do you honestly have so little regard for our intelligence? Why should one character make us satisfied enough to flock to Paizo’s products? Sure it's better than most other mainstream RPGs out there, but that's like saying that Justin Bieber is better than Britney Spears. They both suck – it’s just a matter of degree.

But in the long run it’s a short-sighted publishing strategy when you consider that more and more women are getting into gaming. There are somewhere around 62 million active Farmville users, and 69 percent of them are women. That’s a whopping 42,780,000 women all devoted to one game!

Now let’s hypothesize that Paizo actually pulls its head out of its ass and creates a product line completely devoid of sexist representations of women, and let’s say that they somehow managed to find a successful way to advertise to the “women who play FarmVille” market. If only five percent – around 2.1 million - of women who play FarmVille wind up being interested in this new product line that they spend an average of $10 a year on products from this line, that’s a whopping $21,390,000 per year in sales. And if you attract only 2.5 of the women who play Farmville , that’s still $10,695,000 per year in sales.

I’m not sure if you realized this, but women constitute roughly half the population. And these days, they even let us have jobs, which means we have our own money! But given a choice between spending it on roleplaying books splattered with ridiculous cheesecake porn and, say, a new copy of Beautiful Katamari, where do you think my dollars are going? (Hint: Not the cheesecake-laden RPG)

Lastly, as much as I know you find this hard to comprehend, there are men for whom cheesecake art is off-putting and actually creates negative associations with your products. This insistence that splashing breasts on the cover will make a sale is pretty demeaning toward men as well. Do you as a publisher honestly have such a low opinion of your own customers that you think their purchasing decisions are made with their dicks?

Now I’m sure at this point you will have dismissed me as 1) not a customer 2) an over-emotional female or 3) a humorless feminist. And that’s fine. In case you need more reasons to dismiss me, I suggest checking out Derailing for Dummies for more reasons why what I’m saying doesn’t matter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make a sandwich.