Discussing Violence Against Genders in Metal Gear Solid

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[Note: This article contains minor spoilers for the ending of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.]

With last month’s release of Ground Zeroes and the red band trailer for The Phantom Pain, the Metal Gear Solid series has received a lot of flak for its objectification of women. This is a result of the gruesome scene we see at the end of Ground Zeroes where Paz has her stomach cut open to remove a bomb, and the implied rape she was submitted to during her torture; not to mention a clip of Quiet, the sniper in a bikini, receiving electrical shocks in the game’s red band trailer.

MGS_V_Quiet_Torture

Having said all this, though, one has to question: why is the series garnering all this controversy only now? Hasn’t the element of torture been present in all the Metal Gear Solid games since the release of the first Metal Gear Solid on the Playstaion 1?

It is this writer’s opinion that the controversy stems from the very fact that the two individuals being tortured are female. With this in mind, everything makes sense: the “sexual violence” warning from the ESRB, Quiet’s scantily-clad character design, the audio file from Ground Zeroes suggesting that Paz was sexually assaulted. Metal Gear Solid V is clearly pushing its boundaries with how far it can go with torture scenes. However, it would be inherently unfair to label the series as sexist simply because of its latest entry.

Throughout the course of Metal Gear Solid’s history, males have been subjected to pure, utter humiliation and not a single complaint has been raised. Raiden has been forced to run around stark naked for a good 10 minutes of the game, Otacon wets himself and weeps like an overgrown child in almost every game, Vamp dresses (or doesn’t) skimpily and takes on the role of the overly sexualized male villain in both Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4. And before I forget, Vamp also dances around in his ever-so effeminate manner during the boss fight in MGS4.

It’s evident that Kojima has absolutely no qualms about making his male characters look as silly and weak as possible whenever it suits him. However, if we were focusing on the torture aspect, let’s take a look at how it’s been handled in the previous games.

mgs1torture

In the first Metal Gear Solid, Snake is half naked and strapped to a revolving torture bed that sends electrical shocks to his body, all the while he’s being taunted by Revolver Ocelot who constantly reminds players that you can give up anytime with a simple press of a button. It is worth noting that right before the torture starts, Sniper Wolf also names Snake as her prey, effectively diminishing his worth to that of an animal that is simply there for her to kill.

mgs2torture

In Metal Gear Solid 2, the torture aspect is taken one step further; Raiden is also strapped to a torture device, not unlike Snake in MGS1, except this time he’s completely naked. He also receives a punch below the belt from Olga before she leaves the room to add insult to injury.

mgs3torture

Metal Gear Solid 3 is where the torture starts to get a little more gut wrenching. Naked Snake is strung up by his wrists and receives electrical shocks from Volgin’s fists. The torture gets really severe to the point where even Snake, who has always been portrayed as a strong and stoic male character, wets himself from the pain and the fear. Not only that, but the mutilation escalates when he also ends up getting his eye shot off by a young Ocelot. And let’s not forget that little part before the torture sequence where Snake dresses up as Major Raikov and has his crotch grabbed by Volgin as a means to confirm his identity. Hilarious, wasn’t it? I wonder what the reception towards that scene would’ve been if Snake was a female.

Imagine what these games would have looked like if Snake and Raiden were women characters instead. The feminists on the internet would have a field day with this entire franchise. The torture scenes in the series are there to serve the purpose of showcasing the brutality of war. Regarding torture in Metal Gear Solid V, Kojima himself has clarified this issue in an interview with Eurogamer: “It’s something that needs to be done. As the expressiveness of video games goes up, if you want to go beyond that it’s not something you can avoid. Of course not all video games have to do this, and in my case it’s not something that I want to go through. If the violence will give new emotions that are important to the game, I want to put it in there, especially with this game where one of the main topics is revenge. I don’t want to walk around that.”

The Metal Gear Solid series has never leaned towards the objectification of one gender or the other. It isn’t beyond Kojima to dress Snake up in an outfit just as skimpy as Quiet’s. In fact, I would say that the sneaking suits themselves are already a form that showcased the character’s physique. A female dressed in a skin tight sneaking suit would certainly raise a lot of eyebrows, but it’s considered comical and humorous when Snake shows off his toned butt while crawling on the ground. We laugh when we watch Raiden prance around in high heels or when Snake and Kaz get cozy under a cardboard box. Male sexualization is prevalent in this series and yet it’s always seen as a joke and is never really met with anything other than laughter.

Otacon weeps (again) for the humiliation that males go through in this franchise...

Otacon weeps (again) for the humiliation that males go through in this franchise…

This series has been rather consistent in its depiction of gender roles thus far, giving us a fair share of female characters like Sniper Wolf, The Boss, and Eva. It simply wouldn’t be fair to chastise the series because the individuals who get subjected to torture and abuse in its latest instalment happen to be women; especially since it is a well-known fact that the series contained such elements previously and that torture isn’t anything new to the Metal Gear series. Therefore, claims that Metal Gear Solid V is a game that promotes the subjugation and violence against females probably shouldn’t be validated.

As a female gamer myself I do feel very strongly against video games that insist on including highly sexualized female characters just to showcase sex appeal. It is undeniable that female representation is a subject matter that is only just starting to gain momentum in the video game industry. The industry still has a long way to go before equality in representation of various subgroups like gender, race, and orientation is achieved. With that, perhaps the community should be focusing more on games that actively feature such poorly represented characters instead of creating drama for a franchise that has been fair in its portrayal of genders and race. Metal Gear Solid is not one of those games.

mgsv-quiet

The very fact that Metal Gear Solid is receiving so much bad publicity for its treatment of Paz and Quiet only serves to highlight the hypocrisy of the gaming community. Why rag on a franchise whose latest installment features women getting tortured when it’s been giving the exact same treatment to men for over a decade now? As a narrative that places emphasis on the effects and horrors of warfare, such segments are inevitable in driving its narrative forward. Gamers really shouldn’t be too surprised that the torture of females would be present in such a story.

Kojima assures us that the Metal Gear Solid V torture scene has been put into the game for a good reason, especially since it’s a story about taking revenge and the brutality of the battlefield, and quite frankly, I can buy that. I can buy Kojima’s statement because it makes sense in terms of the narrative and the series’ own history. We can’t speak to his reasons for putting Quiet in tights and a bikini but it shouldn’t be forgotten that this series is notorious for putting its male characters in questionable, skin-exposing outfits as well.

Perhaps the best way to approach Metal Gear Solid V would be to do it with an open mind while remembering the history of brutality that previous Metal Gear games have tried to open us up to. After all, we can’t really make any judgments on the game’s portrayal of torture and women until we’ve played the final game for ourselves.

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About Author

(Associate Editor)

Hello! I'm a history major who loves playing video games and writing about them. I live and breathe for Metal Gear Solid, and I believe that The Last of Us is quite possibly the greatest video game ever made. Also if you're having trouble pronouncing my name (which you probably are), lots of people have taken to just calling me Zee!

  • stealth20k

    Very fascinating. I am pro treating real life genders with respect.

  • https://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX Umar’s Sin

    I got some gooseybumps reading this. It’s not often I read such a fine piece of writing…I couldn’t agree more with this entire article. Look we all support gender equality and we’re against gender based violence, but this latest feminist trend is taking things too far..it’s like the first ‘wrong’ thing they see it suddenly becomes sexist. I remember when Nier got a lot of flack too for dressing Kaine so skimpy, yet she is an amazingly strong character and there was a reason for her outfit, but non of that is ever explored, but hey, if that was a male, no probs right?….Good on you for writing this….Kojima said he will be dealing with taboo themes, I wish people would be more open minded

  • Drew

    THANK YOU. This is what I’ve been thinking from the get-go about the Metal Gear criticism. I feel like there are some in the community who, although their intentions are good with wanting more representation in games, are just out for anyone’s blood on the topic, and it’s unfortunately doing the cause more harm than good.

  • MikeEaton
  • Jason Mounce

    That’s why feminists aren’t really taken seriously.

    The series in particular is loaded with equality in gender-importance in the Metal Gear universe where The Boss can be one of the most instrumental characters – she, being the primary reason why Big Boss and Zero are off on their agenda to make sense of her ideologies. The Boss, a FEMALE character being that important to ‘male character’ (Oh my, controversy) or that men as skilled as Ocelot can play their part, but also Eva as she too was a Double-agent. Meryl being a capable soldier and so on.

    ‘Gender complaints’ are, more or less in summary in my opinion. A ‘Western-Whine Trend’ primarily. North Americans that love to feel self-entitled and offended in ignorance over things they do not fully comprehend, the kind of person that confuses Opinion with Logic, and Logic with Fact, and Thoughts with Opinion. Kojima made a game ripe of characters of both genders with no reason to assume discrimination or prejudice. However, the stupid and ignorant will always dig and dig and claim issues relevant to their agendas but only be formulating half-witted double-standards.

    • http://twinfinite.net Matt Kim

      Look, just because Metal Gear Solid is one of the series exempt from the conversation because of Kojima’s direction doesn’t mean that ‘gender complaints’ are a western-whine trend. Especially because the reason why the “east” (however your definition of the region is) doesn’t have ‘whine’ is because conditions of gender (and age, and ethnicity) inequality are so much worse than western nations here. The concept of equality in sectors of pay and benefits and representation isn’t something that’s in regular discussion over where I’m from (East Asia). Women, young people, and foreigners in those regions have little to no say in the social discourse that’s available to us here.

      Yes, MGS example was a case of picking your battles but you shouldn’t belittle the sort of struggle that is present to a person when you confuse your ‘opinions’ about gender issues as ‘facts’ about gender discussion.

      • Jason Mounce

        I consider it a Western-primary whine-issue rather than the rest of the world. Bringing up the alternate topics as you have does not negate my logic or personal thought on the matter. We don’t hear of other places ‘whining’ or rightfully complaining about equality for numerous reasons. However, it is a Western-trend that people speak out and announce themselves as offended in a self-entitled and usually by ludicrous means. That remains firm, both because women do infact have more say and rights here than many places in the world, but that again doesn’t excuse my point that Feminist Groups usually target wrong places to play the blame game, or accuse sources of bigotry whilst being hypocritical in majority of such scenes in western-feminism topics. There is no ‘Feminist Groups’ or extremists of such worldwide for various reasons.

        Thus, I brand the Western-world foremost as a place that is more inclined to have such gullible and ignorant people who open their mouths without thinking. That’s all. Talking about inequality of places outside of the West has no direct relation to my topic of the Now. It’s indirect, rather. There’s no need to get your panties in a twist as if this is a sensitive topic and I have to pay my respects to the rest of the world, that of which I never even included in my comment. Yet you seem to bring up with redundant reasoning. I can belittle the West all I want, there’s no need to act like I’m belittling the entire world. Especially if it’s trying to tell me the ever-so-obvious dilemma of the rest of the world and lack of equality, which again has absolutely no relation to the societal, media, and dramatical issues that this topic, and my comment is about which is about the stereotypical blaming that women in video games get – THAT OF WHICH? Where do these complaints come from? Primarily – THE WEST. What was my comment criticizing? THE WEST. Bring up ‘The rest of the world’ and the ‘East’ all you want, it is a problem yes. However, it’s not the topic at hand.

        • http://twinfinite.net Matt Kim

          Look, I have nothing against the criticism of reactionary groups that point before looking. The MGS controversy is one of them as I already mentioned in my comment as an unnecessary reactionary uproar (along with the recent Cancel Colbert which I found equally silly). It’s about picking battles and going after actual targets that deserve it. That’s not my point.

          Here’s my question: What languages do you speak? How many languages do you read? If you know only about the “western” (and you actually haven’t defined what western means, English speaking? Europe included? South America as well?) discussion that yeah it’d be easy to say that this is the place where most of the vocal groups are. It’s the fallacy in your argument that I have a problem with. The problem being your umbrella term for a western world that is neither defined nor I would say accurate.

          “Western feminism” “It is a western trend” “I brand the Western-world” What do these even mean? I brought in my own territorial argument as a counter for the words you’ve used because your words imply there is a separate regional sphere somehow devoid of reactionaries and extremists. What separates “Western feminism” from I guess I won’t use “eastern” because as you said it’s tangential to the argument so I guess “other” feminism?

          Again, I don’t know where this “west” you’re referring to is but the mentality of separating and grouping a “west” or “western feminism” as gullible incendiaries is basically the problem I had with your statement and is compartmentalizing something that isn’t really difficult. People everywhere are dealing with shit and react according whether it’s in this “west” that you talk about or anywhere else.
          ________

          As for YourNameIsNobody’s comment, I’m not actually talking about MGS at this point (or even previously). If you’re worried about the future of one of your favorite series, that’s your own thing and something I don’t really have a say in.

          Want my opinion? I doubt MGS V would censor itself or do any worse given the sort of love the fans have for the series. I mean the series has consistently gotten away with many things and I don’t think that would change unless it was from Konami themselves. They have done it before despite a lack of any impetus from the purchasing public (My favorite series Silent Hill was gutted for no apparent reason for its HD release)

      • YourNameIsNobody

        Matt still hasn’t explained why any of that is relevant to the MGS series.

        The point is, white knights and feminists can’t see beyond the surface and always have kneejerk reactions to EVERYTHING… especially things that they have no knowledge of and aren’t even interested in in the first place.

        And that is FAR more detrimental to gender discussions.

        Not to mention, it unjustly creates a negative image of the MGS series in people’s minds for no reason. This could have a negative effect on sales. In fact, that’s what their argument boils down to. “Don’t buy this game because its sexist”, even though they’re wrong.

        Freaking pathetic. Take your battles elsewhere, to where it is actually RELEVANT.

  • roger

    JESUS CHRIST, an article that mentions MGSV’s Quiet AND actually makes sense! I never thought I would see something like this on the internet.

    That was a nice read, thank you for writing this.

  • SonicTHP

    Posted this response to your article on a forum, but only thought it fair to post it on the original as well:

    Interesting read. I agree with the author in that I am glad to see that Kojima is pushing these boundaries of the medium in the severity and tone of topics to be discussed. That is something you see happen a lot in indie games already so it is also good to see it from the other end of the production spectrum. These people take games seriously and want to see the medium as a whole improve.

    I do take slight issue with the author’s maybe unintentional inference that the silly and/or effeminate actions of male characters is any sort of weakness. I mean Metal Gear does have a good amount of diversity in it’s characters, especially compared to other series running as long as it, however, I don’t think I’d say it’s reached any sort of true balance of diversity, it just does a much better job than other comparable titles.

    I also take slight issue with the lumping together of “feminists on the internet” as some sort of singular group with a singular opinion. That’s probably personal though. I’d consider myself a feminist, but that doesn’t mean I’m attending monthly meetings about what our shared opinion of a list of topics are. There’s a diversity of opinion within that family of thought that I wish was more widely recognized.

    Anyway, those are relatively minor nitpicks in an article that on the whole I agree with, celebrating the fact that Kojima Productions and MGSV are challenging the status quo in ways that will spark discussion and hopefully engage the player.

    • munnyndonuts

      Yeah, the MGS series definitely isn’t like the “standard” for video games that have struck a fine balance in gender representation. But like you said, it’s one of the better titles out there that strive to achieve that level of diversity.

      My article was largely aimed towards the feminist arguments calling MGS V out as “sexist” and “disrespectful towards women” which I thought were really unfair comments. I definitely did not intend to accuse ALL feminists of supporting the singular opinion that this franchise was being sexist, and maybe that’s something I should have mentioned while writing this up.

      Either way, thanks for reading and for bringing this to my attention ^^

      • munnymagic

        i like ur name…im sure you can imagine y

  • Felipe Aguena

    What are you guys talking about Metal Gear NEVER treated women as sexual objects…remember Merryl in MGS1? you had to look at her ass to find out who she was and if you were fast enough you could catch her with only her panties? or Paz the 16 year old girl that uppon introduction you could already inspect her underwear on this cut scene, also you could go on a “date” with while she’s only wearing a bikini. Remember the Beauty and Beast corps, the super sensual models you had to fight? and they killed Snake by humping the fucker? and wow you could even make Rose’s boobs jiggle in the codec scenes! Naomi, the gorgeous woman scientist that has her cleavage exposed all the time. EVA from MGS3 whose deal was to flash her boobs around all the time? and now there’s even this girl Quiet from the new MGS, which, even though we’re in the fucking desert and Snake and Ocelot wear tons of clothing to protect from the sun, of course, she’s in a fucking bikini;

    Nope, Metal Gear has always portrait women as human beings that don’t need to have attractive sexual features to matter, is purely on the person their are!

    • munnyndonuts

      Hello!

      I never said that MGS has “NEVER treated women as sexual objects”. You’ve raised many valid examples in your comment. You’ve also made it abundantly clear that MGS is indeed guilty of objectifying women in its titles.

      But I think you’re kind of missing the point of my article here. I’m saying that the series shouldn’t be labelled as ‘sexist’ because it is fair in how it treats both males and females. Yes, women have been objectified in the game. But so have men. This issue has only escalated with the way Paz and Quiet have been portrayed in MGS V, which is why I’m only bringing it up now.

      Also, if you read the entire article, you’ll see that I’ve mentioned that I can’t speak to Kojima’s reasons for dressing Quiet up in a bikini. In fact, no one can speak to his reasons because The Phantom Pain isn’t out yet. Like I said, we can only make judgments on Kojima’s design choices when we’ve played the game for ourselves. Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge when we don’t even know that much about Quiet aside from the fact that she’s in a bikini… Ya think?

  • Reicifr

    This article omits important information to sustain its argument, which seems hurried. You can’t make this argument in that many words with so many omissions.

    During the MGS3 torture, Ocelot tries to shoot EVA and Snake still has the presence of mind to save her. He chose to endanger himself, because he was still in control. Snake lost his eye because of something HE DID. Male characters in Kojima games never *completely* lose their ability to somewhat control a situation.

    “Yes, yes, let yourself go; that’s what I like to see,” Volgin says as Snake soils himself.

    Volgin wants Snake to completely lose control. That’s how he wins. And during the whole scene Volgin is trying to get Snake to confess, but VOLGIN ends up confessing.

    Also, when Volgin is punching Naked Snake, you can hold the shoulder buttons to not take any damage.

    Every male Kojima protagonist perseveres during torture and has a redeeming quality that keeps them in control.

    Snake “lets himself go” when he soils himself in MGS3, but he gets his control back when it comes time to save EVA. EVA is consistently tortured in a sexualized way, and the only time a male character is sexualized during torture, it’s by Sniper Wolf the man-eating misandrist and by Volgin the bisexual sadist (whose sexuality is a punchline). There’s always an underlying tone in these games that empowers the straight male characters.

    When Raiden is naked in MGS2, it’s treated as a joke, not as something erotic. When Raiden is choked on the torture machine, you have an option to RESIST. Still in control, as I said.

    Raiden escapes from the torture room naked and is still in control. (He only escapes because a female character betrays her comrades, BTW.) Raiden can still sneak by guards and knock them out, even stark naked.

    When Snake is half-naked during torture in MGS1, Ocelot gives him a choice. Gives him control. What does Ocelot gives Snake control of? Meryl’s life. If Snake can CONTROL the pain of the torture, then Meryl lives. If Snake cannot handle the torture, he can still control the situation by giving up a Kojima woman’s life instead. See how far Kojima goes to make sure the male characters always have an ace up their sleeve?

    Every time a woman is brutalized by a man in a Kojima game, I want you to show me where, in that same scene, how she is still empowered or retains a semblance of control without anyone’s help at all. You won’t find one unless you omit key details that make the female character look bad. I know you won’t; trust me.

    It’s about control, it really is. Not just someone’s physical
    appearance and scenes with extreme violence. Your critique leads
    readers on with its not-completely-true arguments and settles for
    surface interpretations, much like the failed feminists you take the time
    to jab at. The stab at feminists shows exactly what angle you came at this from.

    How are the homophobic and transphobic crotch-grabbing scenes that are portrayed as humorous in the game somehow sexist against men? Probably by being angry at feminists. This article generalizes way too much so its poor points can look good to someone who isn’t well-read on this issue.

    • munnyndonuts

      You’re absolutely right about there not being any examples of women retaining some degree of control when they’re brutalised by a man in the series. That said, I never contested the fact that women have a one-up on the men when it comes to gender portrayals in the games. I’ve conceded that MGS is far from guilt-free when dealing with the issue of sexual objectification.

      You raised a really good point about the male characters having control during their torture sequences. I can’t give you an example of women retaining control, but I can give you an instance whereby a male character is completely stripped of his during torture. In Ground Zeroes, Chico is ordered to reveal MSF’s secrets or he’ll be forced to sexually assault Paz while Skullface watches. It’s true, Paz has been completely stripped of her power here, but so has Chico. I guess my point here is this: both male and female characters have received equal treatment in terms of sexual humiliation, thus my statement “the MGS series has never leaned towards the objectification of one gender or the other”. Both genders have suffered, and both have seen very strong and empowered characters.

      You also mentioned that men wearing women’s clothing and the theme of homosexuality are meant as a joke. A fair point, but I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with you there. The crotch-grabbing scenes are there for humour, yes; and so are the parts in MGS3 where you can press R1 to zoom in on EVA’s breasts. Sexualization, for the earlier games at least (because it seems to go on a much darker route in MGS V), seem more like a joke as a whole than anything else. The cameras zooming in unnecessarily on a woman’s body, as well as Volgin grabbing Snake’s crotch and the men clad in skimpy outfits, are all examples of Kojima poking fun at the idea of sexualization. To me, at least. The comedic way in which all these scenes are executed makes MGS seem like a series that tries to poke fun at the whole issue of unfair gender portrayals.

      Sexualization is a comic element in this series that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so maybe we shouldn’t too. Y’know?

      And that comes back to my initial argument of how I believe that gender portrayals in MGS are consistent and balanced. It’s not perfect, but I don’t think it’s skewed.

      Also yes, Snake’s sneaking suits and Quiet’s outfit are vastly different in terms of function. But I was focusing more on the aesthetics of their outfits to illustrate the point that they’re both showing off their bodies. My apologies if I couldn’t make that clear enough in my writing.

      Lastly, I’m calling the community out as hypocritical because literally the only difference between Volgin grabbing Snake’s balls and pressing R1 to look at EVA’s boobs (I’m just plucking these two as random examples since I already brought them up in my comment) is that the ‘subjects’ of sexualization are of different genders. Where were all the raging articles about Snake’s modesty being compromised?

      Well, thanks for reading!

      • Reicifr

        Your interpretation of Kojima’s objectification of women as “poking fun” at sexualization in lieu of the misogynistic content that will forever stain his ludography is unbelievably charitable.

        In Snatcher there’s a character called Metal Gear who consistently tries to persuade the protagonist that women are treacherous and out to deceive. The protagonist also can say “women are devils!” at one point.

        These themes carry over twenty-five years later with the Skullface line: “Treachery and deceit…what better proof she’s a…REAL woman?”

        You wrote:
        “Lastly, I’m calling the community out as hypocritical because literally the only difference between Volgin grabbing Snake’s balls and pressing R1 to look at EVA’s boobs (I’m just plucking these two as random examples since I already brought them up in my comment) is that the ‘subjects’ of sexualization are of different genders.”

        One scene contains a depiction of sexual assault depicted as humorous, like Kojima does all through Policenauts, while the other does not. That’s one difference.

        What you said makes absolutely no sense to me, and not just because you said that’s *literally the only reason the two scenes are different*. Even if someone knows absolutely nothing about videogames, I think they’d see that your sentence just isn’t true; it violates its own logic. The “community” is not hypocritical at all if that’s your reasoning.

        The player actually has to press that R1 button to look at EVA’s breasts. There’s a level of player complicity there that’s not in the sexual assault scene. Same goes for that scene in MGS4, where Snake drops a cigarette on purpose so he can look up Naomi’s skirt. In MGS4, the male-gaze camera roves over the bodies of the four traumatized beauties and sexualizes them. During *every* cutscene they’re in. In EVERY Metal Gear Solid game, the male-gaze is evident. There’s even a photo-shooting mode where the Beauties pose for you, which makes no sense. But there is no skewed objectification for you, somehow.

        Also: http://kotaku.com/397433/metal-gear-solid-4s-nude-actor-motion-capture

        It’s worth noting that Kojima didn’t make Raiden’s mocap actor do his scenes nude. I wonder why.

        You wrote:”I can’t give you an example of women retaining control, but I can give you an instance whereby a male character is completely stripped of his during torture. In Ground Zeroes, Chico is ordered to reveal MSF’s secrets or he’ll be forced to sexually assault Paz while Skullface watches. It’s true, Paz has been completely stripped of her power here, but so has Chico. I guess my point here is this: both male and female characters have received equal treatment in terms of sexual humiliation, thus [...]”

        You’re breaking your own logic. You can only come up with one instance where you think a male character loses control, but somehow that proves that the representation of men and women in the MGS series in terms of sexual humiliation is utterly equal. Because you have the Chico scene in Ground Zeroes. One scene. This is not equality.

        And Chico *did* have a choice; you said it yourself. Confess or be forced to sexually assault Paz. You’re right about Paz; there was no choice for her. But the fact is, Paz was *not* sexually assaulted in that instance, if you pay close attention; technically, Chico was, because he kept saying “no” — not to mention he is a child.

        Boys can be sexually assaulted, too. Y’know?

        (Shaking a little. God, that’s such a crappy scene.)

        Kojima writes Paz as wanting the underage Chico to do it, even goading him on and coaxing him. In Peace Walker, she hints at being sexually interested in Chico.

        You wrote: “The cameras zooming in unnecessarily on a woman’s body, as well as Volgin grabbing Snake’s crotch and the men clad in skimpy outfits, are all examples of Kojima poking fun at the idea of sexualization. To me, at least. The comedic way in which all these scenes are executed makes MGS seem like a series that tries to poke fun at the whole issue of unfair gender portrayals.”

        They’re not examples of satire or self-awareness at all, and you’ll never be able to amass as much evidence for this claim as people will be able to amass evidence against it. I’m sure if you brought this to Kojima, he’d agree. I would, too, even if you were absolutely wrong about my intentions. I would have a reputation to protect. And it doesn’t matter if I lie to your face; not in this industry.

        “Sexualization is a comic element in this series that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so maybe we shouldn’t too. Y’know?”

        No, I *don’t* know. I tend not to find sexual harassment, assault, and unwanted voyeurism funny. Kojima treats the sexual assault and harassment of women — including fourteen- and sixteen-year-old girls — as humorous in Snatcher and Policenauts. In a re-release of Policenauts on Sega Saturn, three more female characters were made available for the player to sexually assault them. No other notable major changes were made. Must be an important feature, huh?

        Accompanying this are characters telling the player that they should touch “cute chicks” and that “women live for attention, y’know”.

        Anyway, thank you, too, for being civil and actually conceding on some points. It was refreshing. Not that I want you to agree, but it being able to do that, for me, tends to show good character.

        • munnyndonuts

          Unfortunately, I’ve never played Snatcher or Policenauts so I can’t base any arguments off of that game. Sorry about that, but I’ll definitely check them out when I can.

          You argued that the crotch-grabbing scene is humorous while the element of voyeurism with EVA is not. I think that’s a difference of opinion there. You’re forgetting that while we do have the camera roving over women’s bodies (the male-gaze camera, as you aptly pointed out), we also have the camera looming over the men’s butts as well. Snake crawling on the ground during the Act 2 cutscene in MGS4, and the various scenes we get in MGS2 where the camera angles itself just behind Raiden’s rear during lengthy dialogue sequences. I agree that MGS does objectify women. But this is definitely a series that does a better job than most at an attempt to strike a balance in equality between genders.

          I like that you brought up the issue of the male gaze. Do you think the reason why people don’t see the implied themes of homosexuality and the aspect of men dressing up in women’s clothes as forms of objectification is because this industry is already operating under the male gaze? This is just speculation on my part but my opinion is that the scenes that contain male sexualization are seen as much less severe BECAUSE players are under the male gaze. I like to think that my article has tried to shed some light on this issue by pointing out that hey, it’s not just the women who are being objectified here, the men are made to look pretty wimpy too.

          Regarding that instance with Chico being forced to choose between a confession or sexually assaulting Paz, I don’t think you’re being fair in saying that Chico has any control here. Like you said, he’s just a boy. If I were in his position, and someone held me at gunpoint saying: “Give me all your secrets. If you don’t, then you’ll have to sexually force yourself onto this person whom you clearly care a lot for while I watch”, I seriously don’t think that I’d see myself as a person with much of a choice or any control in that situation. But that’s just me. And yes, that was pretty disturbing, to say the least.

          It doesn’t matter that Paz was interested in Chico because the situation they were in was one of coercion, not romance or anything like that.

          Also, like I said earlier, MGS isn’t guilt-free when it comes to objectification. I’m not using this GZ example to show that there is complete equality between genders. I’m just saying that you can’t label the series as “sexist” when it’s been consistent in how it treats them, and in how it produces strong male/female characters. That’s it.

          I’m really not sure how to touch on your point that the “sexual harassment” in MGS should be taken more seriously because, frankly, I have a hard time feeling offended as a woman when I see Snake crouching on a table as his face leans in so comically lecherously at EVA’s chest. Female sexualization is so painfully cringe-worthy and obvious that it’s hard for me to take it seriously because it just looks satirical to me. But yep, this is just my take on it.

  • Reicifr

    “The Metal Gear Solid series has never leaned towards the objectification of one gender or the other.”

    http://kojimawomen.tumblr.com/

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