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Opinion: Caving to Pressure and the War on Women


When did the world become so desperate to placate those angry few who shout the loudest?

Some people seem to be unable to make the distinction between being offended and something being offensive. Worse, others still have started to work towards attacking things that may be offensive to people or that, when twisted far beyond its original intention, suddenly goes from mildly funny joke to a matter of life or death.

It’s part of a modern world that wants to feel good all of the time. It’s not a generational thing, but a societal one, where even the mildest slight becomes an outrage when it pinpricks the bubble of our own self-selected reality. 

In the same week that a million strong petition failed to bring Jeremy Clarkson back to the BBC, Fable developers Lionhead removed the above poster from their social media accounts after a few overly sensitive voices found it distasteful.

The upsetting thing is that all of their judgements came almost entirely from their own poor view of women. 

They didn’t see a tongue in cheek joke to coincide with National Cleavage Day – they saw an unwilling whore, designed for men who apparently don’t realize that it’s 2015 and that you can see more erotic imagery in twenty seconds on Facebook.

They saw weakness, they saw a lack of agency – they saw an object. Why? Because of the way society views women, they say. Because she’s not a person, she’s just a two dimensional pair of breasts holding that all-powerful beverage that is never but two seconds from the minds of our collective Homer Simpson mentality: beer.

All this from a pictorial pun, and one that has existed in video game form since at least 2008.

There was nothing in that picture that they didn’t bring there themselves, and it says a great deal about their views on both genders. A genderless innuendo became an attack on womankind, because they are so certain of what “men” are that they follow a chain of thought that is belittling to males and females. In doing so, they directly attack both the idea that women can have a sense of humour about themselves but, more importantly, that women are just people.

Lionhead jumped at the chance to show how progressive they are by deleting the tweet. It’s impossible to say what made them do it, but everybody is entitled to their own opinions on the matter.

What is clear is that by doing so they have presented a certain image. Women, it says, are a risk, and we should be careful in how we portray them. 

Don’t portray them as buxom barmaids, because women are above that.

Don’t use them in jokes, because you might cause offence.

Why? Because context, that’s why – and by context they actually mean wildly out of context.

And that’s something that Lionhead have supported, because the idea of using women as people, with whom you can do whatever you want to build towards a desired effect, is just too risky a business.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott