Monday, 10 September 2012

The Violence Double Standard

I don't know if other men's rights activists had one specific moment where they became an MRA but I can remember one moment that significantly affected me more than any others I'd experienced. About six or seven years ago, I regularly watched a daytime television show here in the UK. Their content was always very varied and they usually had pieces about fashion, cookery, celebrity and soap "gossip", men's and women's health and the occasional celebrity interview. I'm guessing there are similar shows in the US. Obviously, it was aimed at a female audience but there were enough interesting celebrity interviews on there that I regularly watched too.

Occasionally, this show liked to have segments about important issues. Homelessness, drug addiction and suicide, for example. It was only natural that they covered domestic violence a few times. Now before anybody gets worried that a show aimed at women dismissed men's issues, they actually handled them very well. They pointed out the statistic of men being four times more likely to commit suicide than women and for the domestic violence segment, even though the presenters didn't focus on male victims, they did mention them. They mentioned the stigma of men coming forward and then made mention of the following statistic: even though there were five-hundred domestic violence shelters for women in the UK, men had a grand total of ... twelve. That was enough to encourage me to develop an interest in men's rights and, after some research online, a second statistic cemented it. I don't remember the figure but while UK domestic violence statistics showed that men were slightly less likely to be victims of DV than women, young men in my age group -- I believe the group was 16-20 year olds -- were slightly more likely to be victims than their female counterparts. So that's when I started looking at violence against men in a different light.

However, aside from the Hitman trailer in my previous post, I can't recall any gender issues in video games about the issue of violence. If there ever is a debate about violence in video games, gender doesn't factor into it; it's always the violence itself, such as Manhunt being controversial because of the executions and Mortal Kombat back when it was first released. So why is gender never an issue? The only answer I can come up with is that violence against women in video games is so rare that nobody has ever needed to speak up on it. That's why we hear far more about objectification of women instead. And violence against men? Well ... who cares? They're just men. I have a few examples that aren't filled with blood and gore at all but they are representative of a double standard of violence in video games, the reason being that if any of these examples featured women attacking men, there'd be a backlash. Some of these speak for themselves, others require explanations:

Final Fantasy XIII

I know people are going to hate me for this ... but I actually quite liked Final Fantasy XIII. I really did. Sure, compared to other Final Fantasies, it doesn't even measure up. The gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. I think the story held together for longer than other FFs did and it remains the only Final Fantasy game where I've actually liked the characters. As far as I'm concerned, Sazh is the best character in any FF game. I couldn't have asked for a finer example of a male character in a game and all credit has to go to the writers for portraying him as a father who wants nothing but his son to be safe.

However, while there were a few FFXIII characters I liked, main character Lightning was not one of them. According to Square-Enix, she was conceived as "a female version of Cloud", from Final Fantasy VII. I must've missed the version of Final Fantasy VII where Cloud clocks Tifa in the jaw angrily. Twice.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Here's a quick rundown of what you're seeing above, for anyone who's never played Uncharted: basically, Elena Fisher is a filmmaker creating a documentary on Nathan Drake. Very early in the game, Nate and his partner ditch her while she's making a phone call. When they finally reunite, Elena takes Nate by surprise and punches him in the face for being a jerk and leaving her.

Sounds fair enough, right? Well, as is always the best thing to do in these situations, reverse the sexes. Can you ever recall a male character punching a female hero and still being allowed to remain as one of the good guys, no repercussions? Let's say Lara Croft ditched a "non-action guy" and when they finally came across each other again, he punched her. What would happen? I doubt he would remain as one of the good guys. That might be enough to turn him into the villain of the piece and have him search for the treasure on his own or, more probably, turn him into the cowardly weasel, the second-in-command to the real villain, hiding behind a bigger, scarier adversary so Lara couldn't get at him.

I came to this conclusion because there have been plenty of soap operas, drama series' and so forth where, no matter what else happens in a certain scene, everything grinds to a halt if there's violence by a man against a woman. She slaps him? Whatever, no problem. The slap is part of every woman's arsenal in a television show. He slaps her? Monster. The attitude of "he can take it, he's a man" waters down how significant an issue domestic violence against men is. Naturally, the reverse would wander into "don't hit a girl" territory, meaning any guy who did hit a girl in a video game would have to be portrayed as a monster or fear a backlash. The only real exception to this rule that comes to mind -- apart from fighting games, for obvious reasons, and free-roaming sandbox games because they would look odd without any women in the world -- is the Mass Effect series. I'm not quite sure why it gets a pass. Because Shepard can be a member of either sex? Because the player can choose not to punch the female reporter? The large female fanbase for Mass Effect?

Heavenly Sword

I have a lot I could write about Heavenly Sword. I'm almost certain I'll devote an entire blog post to it at some point, once I've played through it again. However, this is just about the violence against men.

Just watch this video. Start from around the 4:40 mark:

For anyone who's not quite sure what they're seeing there, each of the bosses in the game is defeated with a quick-time event. This is the final boss, King Bohan, being defeated by the main character, Nariko. And this quick-time event features, amongst other attacks, Nariko elbowing Bohan in the genitals from a great height, followed by stabbing him in the thighs twice. Up until recently, I actually thought Nariko stabbed him in the genitals twice, thanks to how close the camera is to Bohan. We don't get a clear look until the camera angle changes.

What's wrong with this should be obvious. Even if you don't agree with me about a male character punching a female one, similar to the Uncharted example above, how do you think a game would be perceived if a male character attacked a woman's genitalia and then appeared to stab her in the same region? I get the eerie feeling that someone will mention the crotch-punches in Saints Row 3 but come on, if it was a game where crotch attacks were meant to be taken seriously.

While that was the main groin attack in Heavenly Sword that stuck out in my mind, I came across this trailer while I was browsing, which I then uploaded to my YouTube channel:


So let's make something very clear; the developers of Heavenly Sword, Ninja Theory, didn't just feature genital mutilation in their game. They actually used it to advertise their game. Remind me; why did anyone ever say Heavenly Sword was sexist against women again? Oh, right, Nariko's clothes. Silly me.

Metal Gear Solid 4

In Metal Gear Solid 4, Meryl Silverburgh made her return to the series after being gone since the first game. She was different. Older. Tougher. She also had some cute lines like, "Men. Selfish, egotistical pigs". The reason she had this attitude? She found out that the man she thought was her uncle was actually her father, so she was pissed off at him. In spite of the fact that this same father ordered the main character to save his daughter's life, used his connections to get her a job in the military in the Middle East and help her become the leader of her own unit, which is where we're reintroduced to her in Metal Gear Solid 4. Not bad for a "womanizing piece of shit", as Meryl refers to him at one point. She goes so far as to blame him for being with a younger woman even though she was lusting after an older man in the first game.

So while Meryl has clearly grown into a misandrist in the time between Metal Gear Solid 1 and 4, it doesn't stop with verbal insults. There is one member of her team called Johnny Sasaki, who MGS fans will know as the series' comic relief character, the humour coming from him being stricken with diarrhoea at inopportune moments. In MGS4, his role is expanded greatly, so he's one of the members of Meryl's squad. He's so useless in this role that Meryl frequently punches him and the audience is supposed to laugh.

Now, never mind the fact that a man being punched by a woman is deplorable enough on its own. Being punched by a sexist woman without any repercussions is ridiculous. Honestly, remember that "selfish, egotistical pigs" line from above? Snake, a male character, only reacts to it with a grunt. We don't get a "screw you, Meryl. If it wasn't for men, you'd be dead by now," from Snake. Just a grunt! It's almost as if we're meant to sympathise or agree with Meryl; she's one of the good guys and nobody debates her sexist points, so what other conclusion are we supposed to come to? I've even been informed that Meryl's abuse of Johnny would be grounds for a court martial. Don't worry though, folks, it has a happy ending:

For those of you who've never played Metal Gear Solid 4, trust me, I was as stunned as you. Yes, the abusive woman and her victim get married in the ending sequence.

Amazingly enough, MGS4 isn't even the first time Meryl is abusive to Johnny. Here's an image from MGS1:

That's Johnny, immediately after being beaten unconscious by Meryl and having his uniform stolen. Now at the time, they were adversaries, so you could at least justify her treatment of him in this case. However, if MGS4 is to be believed, this is the moment that Johnny realised he was in love with Meryl.

So let's do what we always do in these situations and flip the sexes. This is how things are chronologically:
  • Man beats female guard into unconsciousness, steals her clothes and leaves her naked.
  • The female guard joins that man's squad later in life, where she's subjected to regular beatings for being inept and the man has an incredibly low opinion of women.
  • The female guard unmasks and the man stops beating her because she's pretty.
  • The female guard reveals she's loved how he's abused her all these years.
  • The two of them get married and live happily ever after.
This is a lot like the Uncharted example above but with all the dials turned up to eleven. Rather than just one punch, it's regular attacks. Rather than taking it out on the male character for being a jerk, the woman does it because the guy keeps making mistakes. And, of course, Elena wasn't a huge sexist, as Meryl was. Yet we're still supposed to see Meryl as a hero, as always in these cases.

There are many more games that feature a double standard when it comes to violence. Mirror's Edge and Faith's groin-kick. In addition to other sexist occurrences, Batman: Arkham City featured male enemies having their bones broken (by a woman, in some instances) while the female ones suffered knockout punches and kicks. How many games have you played that feature both men and women as members of the heroes' team/army but an all-male opposing force? Not main characters, just your standard NPCs and enemies. Final Fantasy VIII did this with Balamb Garden's heroic students of both sexes battling the all-male Galbadian army. In Half-Life 2, the villainous Civil Protection probably weren't all-male, if the disturbing experiments in the final chapter are anything to go by. However, they looked male and they sounded male. So to the casual observer, the final few chapters featured a mix of male and female freedom fighters battling an all-male totalitarian regime. Hell, if you don't count games with actual good armies and start including named characters, that list shoots up to include Uncharted 1 and 2, Metal Gear Solid 1-3 (where all the female villains turned good before their deaths or were just pretending to be evil all along) and even the Crash Bandicoot games technically qualify.

It's worth bearing in mind, too, that these are only the games I've played. I'm actually morbidly curious about games starring female characters such as Bayonetta, Lollipop Chainsaw and Wet. I've noticed a video on YouTube showing all the cutscenes from Lollipop Chainsaw so that's on my To Do list. If anybody has played those three and would like to educate me about them, I'd be happy to listen.

From the sounds of things, it doesn't seem as if violence against men is something that concerns developers in the slightest. Here's a Gamespot article about God Of War: Ascension. For anyone who didn't read the article, it's basically David Hewitt, the game design manager of Sony Santa Monica, briefly discussing about how the development team has "pulled back" from featuring violence against women in the God Of War series. So basically, Kratos, the murderous, amoral, psychotic, sadistic star of the God Of War series who has had no problems slaughtering people by the thousands throughout the series ... is now going to restrict his violence to people with penises?

This story, however, does have a happy ending. Looking at the comments below really reaffirms your faith in the gaming community. Take a look at a few of the comments and maybe we can end this blog on a happy note:

"As a Female Gamer i'm quiet disgusted with the amount of idiotic female "interest grops" out there putting their selfishness first before the freedom of expression in video-games."

"Oh right, because ripping a male apart is humane, but ripping a female apart is pure EVIL. I see the equality. So, ripping apart transgenders is what? Frowned upon?"

"am just waiting for Wonder Woman to come out and am complain about violence against men if lays even 1 finger on any man"

"Might it be more sexist to take such things out?  After all, in this modern age women deserve equal rights.  They deserve equal opportunity, equal pay, and, of course, an equal opportunity to get their heads pulled off by Kratos."

"What about violence against men?"

"Well thats just straight up BS. How many men have been brutally murdered by Kratos? Not to mention other games out there. A few female characters get killed and its some big freaking deal? Seems more like a pleasant change."

"Aren't men and women equal?"

"Message received.  It's morally ok to kill men.  Thanks game devs."

That'll do for now but I'd like to leave you with one final comment from a Gamespot member called MysteryJ0ker that perfectly sums up both Gamespot's recent slew of biased articles on sexism and my fears for the gaming industry as a whole.

"I like how the gaming industry is now fully turning into a political statement"

As always, if there are any topics you'd like me to write about or you have questions or feedback, leave a comment below or contact me at All comments are welcome!


  1. The example with MGS reminds me of a scene in Sex and the City. Miranda complains at a fast food restaurant about a advertiser dressed as a giant sandwich (or was it a hotdog? not that important) who says "Eat me!". She says this sentence is sexist and after she gets dismissed by the restaurant manager she complains directly at the man in the costume who repeates his slogan. After she gets a glimpse of his face and finds him rather pretty, she stops complaining and just goes away with a growing interest in the man under the costume.

    Pretty much the same thing in a different setting, minus the physical violence. Is there a trope for that?

  2. Whoa, someone took down your section about Meryl and MGS4 pretty hardcore, dude. I felt the intellectual pain all the way from here, bro. It was almost visceral in how it hit me. But whatever, men's rights, am I right!

    1. Sorry, it's here:

    2. Hardly "intellectual pain"; the writer of that posts is of guilty of omitting facts as he/she claims I am. I'm not going to go over this point-by-point because I don't have time but I will answer as many of the criticisms as I can.

      Let's start with the easy stuff; Johnny actually said that he had loved Meryl since the first time he had set his eyes on her at Shadow Moses and, evidently, the beatings weren't enough to deter him. Apparently, hotness trumps abuse.

      Secondly, Reicifr states "Maybe decry the violence against Johnny being presented as humorous before you call it misandrist?", not realising that the violence being presented as humourous is what makes it misandrist. That's the entire point.

      Thirdly, I'm very glad he/she brought up that MGS was written by a male author because it allows me to point out how little difference it makes; the content still features a misandrist character that we're meant to support and in spite of Reicifr's claims, we clearly are meant to support Meryl; her misandry is never pointed out as being wrong, her unit functions well because of her abuse of Johnny, she's a good guy. All of Reicifr's handwaves -- Snake not speaking up because he knows he really is a "selfish, egotistical pig", for example, and Meryl's abuse of Johnny -- are going very, very far out of their way to justify Meryl's statements and actions when the simplest answer is most likely the correct one; Meryl is sexist. Anyway, the content is the important thing, not the writer. I've always disliked people trying to dismiss sexism with such an irrelevant statement; it still promotes sexist statements or stereotypes.

      Reicifr also seems to make the old mistake of only taking how women are treated in media into account; he/she states "what little female characters there are in the MGS series, a surprising number of them don't survive to make it to the next game, being frequently murdered and abused by men". Completely ignoring the fact that this applies to the majority of the men too.

      For example, a couple of pages later (page 17), Reicifr delves deeper into the deaths of female characters. Let's take the "Total dead female characters in MGS (only counted in the games in which they first appeared)" and go with MGS3. That's listed as "3 out of 3", which I assume means The Boss, EVA and Para-Medic (who died later on chronologically, so their deaths count for that game too). But what about the male characters? The Pain, The Fear, The End, The Sorrow, The Fury, Volgin, Major ZERO (in MGS4), Sigint (in MGS1; he was the DARPA Chief, Donald Anderson), Ocelot (in MGS4), Granin and finally Big Boss himself. Sokolov also appeared to have died but, looking at the MGS Wiki, he survived with the use of a fake death pill given to him by The Boss. If not for Sokolov, it'd be a clean sweep of deaths for MGS3 characters. So I have to ask, why only female characters focused on?

      Sticking with the point that only women are being focused on, Reicifr points out the phrases like "stupid woman" and "useless woman" used by the villains in MGS1 ... ignoring the fact that they're villains while Meryl was a hero in MGS4. I actually wanted to write a blog post about that phenomenon; sexism against women is a villainous quality while sexism against men is just ... a quality. Can be held by either heroes or villains, doesn't really matter.

      (Continued. I'm running out of characters.)

    3. There are other examples of only focusing on the women; Reicifr states that making Meryl sexist against men "seems sexist against women if you ask me". I also don't see he she compared Snake's "isn't that gun a little big for a girl?" question and shooting Sniper Wolf to Meryl making a sexist statement (and one nowhere near as bad as Meryl's, incidentally) and beating Johnny; I mean, Snake shoots everyone. Meryl only beats Johnny. Snake's comment was also teasingly asking if Meryl would be able to defend herself with a gun that size (and bear in mind that Meryl had forgotten to take the safety off the assault rifle she stole from Johnny earlier in the game, so he had good reason to ask), while Meryl's MGS4 statement denigrated an entire sex.

      I'm not sure what Reicifr is getting at by bringing up the "lecherous old admiral" who had eyes for Mei Ling; clearly, the admiral isn't thought highly of. Reicifr states, "Mei Ling, being a female character, acquired a new job thanks to her attractive appearance," but that's clearly thought of as a bad thing; we know she's capable. The game's characters know she's capable. And thanks to Otacon, we all know that the admiral is lecherous. An unpleasant male character.

      Also not sure why Reicifr brought up the non-canon MGS1 ending where Meryl dies. He/she also says, "the player even has the chance to hurt Meryl and ogle her during segments where she leads Snake through the island compound". It's been a while since I played MGS1 but would these be the same segments where attacking Meryl causes her to order some wolves to attack Snake in return? It's the same in MGS2, when Snake is posing as Pliskin; shooting him makes him shoot back.

      I'm running short on time but I will say one thing I actually liked about Reicifr's post; the explanations about Meryl being influenced by her supposedly-deceased father, which guided her into the military. That turning out to be a lie turned her against Campbell. That definitely provided me with an explanation for her attitude. Having said that, it doesn't justify the statements against all men, nor her abuse of Johnny, nor the lack of response from Snake regarding it (and yes, I read Reicifr's explanations for all of those but didn't buy them).

      So I appreciate being enlightened on that issue but as far as I'm concerned, Meryl is still a deeply unpleasant, misandrist character.

      Also, since I'm not a member of the Escapist forums, I'd like to say thank you to Sonichu for linking to this blog so often. I've had a ton of traffic from there over the last few days.

  3. All right, I'm gonna completely take your weak argument apart now, okay? I don't have to convince you of anything, because you won't relent. I just have to make your arguments look fallacious in the eyes of others. You have little to no control over that. I know you'll answer what I say back with essentially a shaking head, and offer no evidence to the contrary. You'll probably point to few parts of my entire argument and try to twist them or deny them with no evidence instead of looking at the whole thing, because that's just how people like you roll. I don't expect you to be intellectually honest. Anyway, here I go. I will be addressing *the audience* here on out.

    “Sticking with the point that only women are being focused on [?], Reicifr points out the phrases like “stupid woman” and “useless woman” used by villains in MGS1 ... ignoring the fact that they’re villains while Meryl was a hero in MGS4.”

    Okay, so somehow only horrible things “villains” say are forfeit by Mr. Blogger’s strange unit of sexist measurement. This means the only other blatant expressions of misandry in Hideo Kojima’s *entire oeuvre*, which are Sniper Wolf’s misandrist utterances in MGS1, are forfeit. Something tells me Mr. Blogger would hate to see Wolf’s juicy lines like, “Women naturally make better soldiers”, “You men are so weak. You can never finish what you start”, and “You were a fool to come back here. Stupid man!” slip from his grasp forever. Or maybe Mr. Blogger just doesn’t care because Sniper Wolf says all of this misandrist stuff to Snake, and then Snake shoots her in the chest and face. After all, his whole blog post, “The Violence Double Standard” is him being angry that men are sometimes hit by women. Of course a misandrist female villain being shot in the face by a man wouldn’t bother Mr. Blogger, especially if someone complained that Wolf’s portrayal was sexist against women.

    Mr. Blogger would not agree with the assessment that a seductive, man-hating female sniper who only thinks of killing men with parts of her breasts exposed all the time could even be remotely sexist against women. Apparently whether Sniper Wolf’s portrayal is sexist against women or not doesn’t matter because she’s a “villain”, according to Mr. Blogger. What a silly way to think when players are invited to sympathize with Sniper Wolf’s tragic plight. Again, whether the player is made to sympathize with Wolf or not as she lies dying, her misandry also doesn’t count, because in Mr. Blogger’s world, villains don’t count as sexist.

  4. PART 2

    “I actually wanted to write a blog post about that phenomenon; sexism against women is a villainous quality while sexism against men is just...a quality.  Can be held by heroes or villains, it doesn’t matter,” Mr. Blogger says, and although this is a poorly reasoned sentiment, I believe Mr. Blogger is saying misogynistic qualities are only present in “villains”.

     So!  All I have to do is show that Snake, a hero, is sexist against women, and Mr. Blogger’s sentiments are false.  I’ve already done this previously, but let’s do it again for the sake of it.

     Consider this scene from Metal Gear 2:

    Holly White, a female character, hands Snake a Beretta M92F, a low-recoil nine-millimeter handgun she stole from a soldier.  Completely out of nowhere, as Snake takes the handgun, he says to Holly: “Yeah...I can see how it’d be hard for a woman to use.”

     Although the audience can clearly see this is sexist and Mr. Blogger is wrong, he'll still try to wriggle out of it.

     Consider this bathroom scene in Metal Gear Solid, which Mr. Blogger denies is sexist, because to do so would make him appear wrong and untrustworthy:

     “Where’d you get that Desert Eagle?” Snake says, referring to the handgun Meryl possesses.

     “I found it in the armory,” she says, holding up the Desert Eagle.  “It’s a fifty-caliber Action Express.”

     Snake regards his own gun with disappointment as he says, “So I got a leftover, huh.”

     Snake wants the larger, higher-caliber handgun for himself, so, to persuade Meryl, he uses Meryl’s gender as a possible reason why she shouldn’t use it.  Snake says: “Isn’t that gun a little big for a girl?”

    To persuade Meryl to give him a gun he likes, Snake uses Meryl's gender as a reason why she would be unable to handle it.  She has military training, and in Metal Gear Solid, this is her first mission.  Snake doesn't reference Meryl's lack of experience, though; he references her gender when doubting her capability to handle a large firearm.  This is sexist, and to deny that is to let one's bias shine through quite painfully.

  5. PART 3

    “Secondly, Reicifr states ‘Maybe decry the violence against Johnny being presented as humorous before you call it misandrist?’, not realizing that the violence being presented as humorous makes it misandrist.  That’s the entire point.”  
     Uh, Mr. Blogger might not want to say that the violence against Johnny being portrayed as humorous is his entire point.  Because all I have to do is bring enough doubt to that point and he’s lost the entire argument.

     Mr. Blogger only characterizes Meryl’s striking Johnny and calling him a “dumbass” as humorous because Johnny’s a comic-relief character.  Mr. Blogger offers us no other reasons for Johnny’s punishment being humorous, as there isn’t any goofy music or much of anything else hinting that Johnny’s misfortune is funny other than the fact that he is the comic relief.  We’re apparently supposed to laugh because Johnny is merely present, whether he’s being struck, defecating on himself, or just being socially awkward.  By this rule, the following scenes I describe are humorous.  

     When Johnny surprises Snake and holds him at gunpoint, Snake turns to Johnny and says that he is a rookie and he hasn’t even removed the gun’s safety.  “Careful,” Johnny says, “I’m no rookie; I’m a ten-year vet!”  Snake rolls his eyes and groans.  Johnny, doubting himself, checks to see if the gun safety is on, and Snake uses the opportunity to forearm-slam Johnny in the face, stealing his gun and slamming him to the ground.  Snake mocks Johnny as he lies helplessly on his back, saying, “How the hell did you ever survive ten years?”  He says this with the gun pointed right at Johnny’s face.  This scene, with Snake striking and throwing Johnny is “humorous” according to Mr. Blogger, so it’s also misandrist by the rules Mr. Blogger has set.  After all, Snake once said, “I don’t want to see any woman die right in front of me,” so he has no problem killing Johnny.  After all, it couldn’t be that Mr. Blogger will only call something misandry if women do it, right?  ’Cause that would be pretty sexist of him.  Why didn’t Mr. Blogger notice Snake’s mistreatment of Johnny for chuckles?  Because it hurts his argument.

     At this point, Meryl appears from behind cover pointing her gun at Snake, yelling, “Don’t move!”  Meryl comments on Snake’s familiar fighting style, and then Snake walks over to Johnny and digs his shin into Johnny’s throat as he gasps for air.  Meryl doesn’t like this, and immediately yells, “Lower your weapon!”  Snake sees the FOXHOUND insignia on Meryl’s vest, and Meryl recognizes him shortly after.  “Snake?” she asks.  She removes her balaclava and is evidently surprised and happy to see Snake, despite her one misandrist comment later.  Snake eases the crushing pressure of  his shin from Johnny’s throat, and Snake and Meryl talk a bit.  Later, Meryl shouts Johnny’s nickname “Akiba” sternly as he remains needlessly on the ground, so Johnny scrambles at Meryl in a blind rush.  He’s about to collide with Meryl when she stops his momentum by striking him under the chin.  Johnny falls to his knees from the blow.  Knowing that he could have endangered the team with his incompetence if Snake had been an enemy, Johnny mutters, “Sorry~.”  He’s admitting wrongdoing and accepting the punishment.  Snake later tosses Johnny his gun back, and Johnny almost drops it.  Johnny then growls at Snake for making him look bad.  So far, Meryl’s misandrist comment has not occurred because Roy Campbell hasn’t been brought up in the game.

  6. PART 4

     Later, when Snake and Meryl talk about Roy Campbell and Snake reveals to Meryl that Campbell asked Snake to participate in the mission, she reacts quite angrily.  Meryl seems to nearly break into tears beforehand as she knocks over chairs and then slams her forearm into some rebar protruding from a nearby column.  The nanomachines in her body suddenly regulate her emotions, and only then can she calm down and say the dreaded misandrist line.  So, an overemotional woman needs machines releasing chemicals inside her body to regulate her out-of-control emotions.  Doesn’t this cast Meryl, as a woman, in a bad light?   It’s much more sexist against women in its portrayal of a woman as a temperamental man-hater.  

     Not long after this, after Meryl calms down and sits back in her chair, she and Snake talk about Campbell some more.  Meryl says she’ll never forgive that “womanizing piece of shit”, and Snake scolds Meryl, and she turns away guiltily.  Meryl explains that Campbell has moved in with Raiden’s wife behind Raiden’s back, which is Campbell seemingly repeating the same behavior he had before.  Meryl’s disgust and anger toward Campbell leads her to say to Snake: “Men.  Selfish, egotistical pigs.”  Snake reacts thus: he frowns, looks away, and grumbles, because he wasn’t happy with what said, but he wasn’t going to challenge it, just like the player cannot directly challenge Meryl.  So where is the game is telling the player they should agree with Meryl?  According to Mr. Blogger, the game is telling the player to agree with Meryl only by the virtue that Meryl is a hero and heroes cannot be sexist against women, even though Meryl is shown to be making sexist comments against women in MGS1.  She expresses sexism toward both genders; she’s an equal opportunity offender.  Not only that, but I’ve shown that Snake is sexist against women, too, and he’s the main protagonist.  The game isn’t telling us to agree with Meryl at all, and instead shows us a histrionic woman who exhibits misandrist behavior.
     After this scene, Johnny reveals his entire team’s location to a large group of all-female soldiers due to the reflection of his binocular lenses in the sun.  Johnny then starts having a meltdown over his guilt and the gravity of the situation, and Meryl snaps him back to reality with a slap, saying, “Dumbass!”  That’s it.  After Snake and Meryl’s squad gun down dozens of female soldiers, Jonathan, a male member of Meryl’s squad, singles out a single female soldier because she shot him in the arm.  This is what he does to her:
    Video: 1:34

     Jonathan in MGS4 is based off of Jonathan Ingram from Policenauts, a bigot who sexually assaults women and says things like this about trans women:

     After Meryl’s team kills all these female soldiers, Meryl calls Johnny aside and tells him, “One man’s blunder can compromise the whole team” and then places a sympathetic hand on Johnny’s shoulder.  What a misandrist Meryl is, showing compassion to a man she’s punished for negligence and killing so many women.


     Meryl’s two instances of hitting Johnny in the face are not presented as humorous anymore than the later violence against the all-female soldiers in MGS4’s fifth act is presented as humorous.  Meryl and Johnny argue over who is going to marry who in a shootout with these all-female soldiers as they casually snuff the women’s lives out.  Of course Mr. Blogger would overlook this fact; he has to for his argument to hold up.  He’ll probably say it doesn’t count because the women are villains, which is bogus, and I’m tired of playing by his rules.  

     Meryl, the horrid misandrist who strikes Johnny only twice before and after saying something nasty about men, helps Johnny gun down over two-dozen women as they scream in agony.  This scene is presented as humorous, and if Mr. Blogger doesn’t agree with that, then he’s not being fair.  Johnny is obviously present when he and Meryl murder over dozens of women, so it must be funny.  Not only that, but there’s more to this scene than just Johnny’s comic-relief status when it comes to setting the tone, unlike with Mr. Blogger’s hated Johnny-punching scenes.  Just listen to all that wacky dialogue and watch all the weird choreography as Johnny and Meryl kiss passionately and kill women!  What a turn-on it must be for them, especially since Meryl is a misandrist.  Never mind that Meryl expresses misogynistic views in MGS1 by saying she despises women who ever look at themselves in mirrors or put on makeup:

     Wait, huh?  Meryl just killed a bunch of women, and she kills more women than she ever does men throughout the course of MGS4, but the game is promoting misandry because Meryl said something bigoted while raging over Campbell and is seen hitting Johnny twice.  Meryl’s clearly angry at Campbell, and only ever says, “Men.  Selfish, egotistical pigs,” and “That womanizing piece of shit” when discussing her feelings on Campbell.  She never threatens any other man’s life but Campbell’s.

     This means *something* changes in Meryl’s character at the wedding when Meryl points her gun at Campbell and he grabs the barrel, holding it to his chin, and then Meryl hands him the gun, telling Campbell he’s going to walk her to the groom.  “You’re not angry anymore?” Campbell asks.  “Oh, I’m still mad,” Meryl says, “But now you’ve not a chance to win me over.”  

    As Mr. Blogger said, “[Meryl] had some cute lines like, ‘Men.  Selfish, egotistical pigs’.  The reason she had this attitude?  She found out that the man she thought was her uncle was actually her father, so she was pissed-off at him.”  

    So, at the game’s end, Meryl acknowledges that she’s not going to stay set in her angry, bigoted ways, and she’s going to try to change if Campbell tries, too.  Meryl’s misandrist statements, as even Mr. Blogger states, are because of her anger toward Campbell.  So then, if Meryl’s sexism is a result of her only being angry at Campbell and she only says misandrist things *because of her anger toward Campbell*, how is the game promoting misandry when Meryl strikes Johnny for endangering the lives of three or four other people?  It’s because Mr. Blogger needs to see it that way; he doesn’t want to be right; he only wants to feel like he’s winning.

    I don’t expect the author of “The Violence Double Standard” to ever admit defeat.  I will not respond to Mr. Blogger further.  He will repeatedly and baselessly repeal my arguments without evidence on the virtue that he’s not convinced.  I don’t have to convince Mr. Blogger here; I only have to defeat his argument in the eyes of others.  Like most gamers, Mr. Blogger treats an argument like videogames; his “nuh-uh” in response is tantamount to inserting a new credit at the game-over screen to retry until he wins, but once an argument is lost, it is lost.

  8. Fixing the most egregious typo I made: Meryl says, "But now, you've GOT a chance to win me over.

  9. "[...] while there were a few FFXIII characters I liked, main character Lightning was not one of them. According to Square-Enix, she was conceived as 'a female version of Cloud', from Final Fantasy VII. I must've missed the version of Final Fantasy VII where Cloud clocks Tifa in the jaw angrily. Twice."

    Certainly missed something.

    Cloud beating Aerith in Final Fantasy VII:

    1. Wow. So much hostility, false equivalence and lying by omission. Little tip for you; if you have to brag about how you've won an argument, you'll probably make it a lot trickier to convince other people that you did so.

      Rei Cifr, I hold absolutely no ill will towards you. I like a good debate as much as anyone but you give yourself too much credit by thinking you've crafted an unshakeable argument. Here are my responses to each of your comments and I'm afraid they're pretty simple:

      PART ONE: Firstly, the implication that I'm a misogynist who relishes seeing a misandrist being shot in the chest and face is both untrue and uncalled for. Again, you're only focusing on female characters and ignoring the male ones; all the villains except Ocelot suffered gruesome deaths, so why single out Sniper Wolf? And the only thing you convinced me of by bringing up Sniper Wolf's "women naturally make better soldiers" comment (amongst others) is that the MGS villains were equal-opportunity offenders; weren't you critical of male villains making sexist comments towards Meryl?

      So as it turns out, this is a completely irrelevant issue that was brought up for no real reason.

      PART TWO: As I already said in my reply above, "Snake's comment was also teasingly asking if Meryl would be able to defend herself with a gun that size (and bear in mind that Meryl had forgotten to take the safety off the assault rifle she stole from Johnny earlier in the game, so he had good reason to ask), while Meryl's MGS4 statement denigrated an entire sex."

      As for the Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake line ... well, I'm not going to defend it but it's also not as bad as Meryl's behaviour for two reasons; firstly, we don't know why Snake said that, either in- or out-of-universe. Like you said, it's a very odd thing to suddenly come up with out of the blue. Actually, considering how many parts of MG2:SS were reused for MGS1, I'm inclined to think of it as a simplified version of Snake's "isn't that gun a little big for a girl" line to Meryl (explained above). Also, if anything, those lines seem like an attempt by Snake to be understanding, albeit patronising, while Meryl's are outright hateful. The second reason why it's not as bad as Meryl's behaviour is very obviously because Snake and Johnny don't get together at the end. Snake was also under the assumption that Johnny was an enemy during their meeting in MGS4. This is unlike Meryl, who starts a romantic relationship with Johnny and beats him completely in the knowledge that they're on the same side.

      PART THREE: You're completely ignoring the tone for the sake of making a ridiculous argument. First of all, yes, Snake's mistreatment of Johnny was misandrist. He's like the bumbling father archetype we see so often in sitcoms; it doesn't matter what he's bumbling over, it's the character himself who is offensive rather than the situation. Do what I did in the blog post above; reverse the sexes. Have a male commanding officer beating a female subordinate repeatedly for failing and have her meekly apologising.

      And as for Johnny apologising after being punched and humiliated, yes, Lord knows victims of domestic violence never say "sorry" after their abuse ... [sarcasm]

    2. PART FOUR: I've been over why we're supposed to side with Meryl in my reply above. As for the characterisation supposedly being sexist against women, nothing could be further from the truth; if anything, Meryl's anger towards Campbell is shown to be justified. You said yourself on the Escapist Magazine forums, Snake says to Campbell, "Now I see why Meryl was so disgusted". He's portrayed as being in the wrong. Meryl is portrayed as being justifiably in the right but, when it turns out that Campbell's relationship with Rose is a sham, he doesn't come out as any better off; Meryl's almost-forgiveness is a sign that she's growing as a character but certainly not that she was in the wrong beforehand. Campbell is still in the doghouse, thanks to the fact that he never told Meryl that he was her father.

      As for Jonathan, he shares the same name as Jonathan Ingram but certainly wasn't based off the Policenauts character. MGS4's Jonathan doesn't have a big enough role to exhibit any of the same traits as Ingram. I find it very telling that you bring up both the fact that Jonathan is "a male member of Meryl’s squad" who "singles out a single female soldier because she shot him in the arm" and then link to a GIF of him shooting her repeatedly. You conveniently "forget" to mention the fact that ALL the enemies at that particular point in the game are female, most of whom received deaths as dignified as those of the male enemies, and you don't know that Jonathan wouldn't have been just as brutal with a male enemy who shot him. You're trying to make something into an issue that really isn't one.

      As for Policenauts, I'm extremely opposed to transphobia -- and incidentally, hated Policenauts. It's got all the cutscenes of an MGS game without any of the gameplay -- so I don't know what you want me to say about it. Yes, transphobia is horrible. However, I don't know what the relevance is here. You're the one trying to justify lines that discriminate against an entire group, so you tell me.

      FINAL PART: Your first two paragraphs are a mess for the false equivalence; first of all, the first three MGS games and most of MGS4 is spent gunning down male enemies. A cutscene featuring two characters shooting female ones is no different from the bloody corridor in MGS1 where the Cyborg Ninja made his first appearance, Fortune blowing away SEALs with her railgun in MGS2 or Vamp slitting throats in the same game. The only difference is that the enemies are female this time around. Again, you're acting like I'm refusing to acknowledge an existing issue when, in fact, you're treating equality as inequality.

      Johnny's status as a comedy character comes to a halt as soon as he takes off his balaclava, revealing himself to be handsome. His diarrhoea clears up, for one thing. He stops screwing up. Meryl stops hitting him. The few laughs that are supposed to exist come from Meryl asking Johnny to marry her instead of the other way around (in a "he's the girl, she's the guy, tee hee hee" kind of way). Again, you're choosing to ignore the tone.

      Something else you seem to ignore is my previous reply; I already said Meryl's hatred of Campbell "doesn't justify the statements against all men, nor her abuse of Johnny, nor the lack of response from Snake regarding it".

      On Final Fantasy VII: no idea where you get the idea that losing control and hitting someone -- literally, Cloud has an out-of-body experience where neither you, nor he, can control his actions. It's as if another character is doing it -- is on the same level as hitting someone while of sound body and mind. Also, would you like to compare the reactions to both attacks? Nobody cares about Snow but Barret was certainly in a rush to stop Cloud from attacking Aeris.

      Refusal to take the little things into account is what I find most damning. It's reminiscent of Anita Sarkeesian, in fact. All examples, no context.

  10. Nobody seems to have brought up the last sentence in the post on the escapist forums. I don't necessarily agree that the gender inverse would make the terrorists radical feminists, the only thing pointing to that being the abundance of now female characters. But it does sound to me that this would put the female characters in a very negative light and consequently the originally male characters are as well. Which does support arguments for sexism against men, so I don't even know why that was brought up.

    Also, claiming that it doesn't matter who is being sexist is patently ridiculous. Does "A Lesson Before Dying" (google it, or better, read it) portraying racist characters make the book pro-racist? Incidentally, context does matter.