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(Flashback) No, I Do Not Love Bayonetta, and Here’s Why

(Flashback) No, I Do Not Love Bayonetta, and Here’s Why
Bell
  • On February 5, 2014

This week in “Bell fails at technology”, I wrote a review on the PC game Redshirt, which I accidentally deleted while trying to add pictures. I am clearly a master of my craft.

Instead the place of that review, please enjoy this vitriolic rant about Bayonetta.

 

I actually started this blog because I had exactly two things to say: how sick I was of the way women who play games are sometimes treated, and how much I hate Bayonetta.  (I wrote a sad little post about how much I love BioWare before the Gamer Girl one, just because I felt like you can’t just start a blog and dive right into the feminist rage; you need some back content. So that was my back content. One post.)

I got the gamer girl issue out of the way pretty much instantly, but I never got around to the Bayonetta post. My understanding of feminism and slut-shaming was (and honestly, still is) (don’t you guys ever get tired of parenthetical statements?) not developed enough to explain why Bayonetta bothered me so much, so every time I tried to write a post about it came out kind of like this:

Bayonetta … women with power…pole dancing…jkl;;joiqevtmjipwGODDAMMIT”

And then I would give up and go do some Angry!Cleaning.

I’m still not sure that my feminist education has progressed to the point where I’m ready to write this, but with the recent news that Bayonetta 2 will be exclusively for the Wii U it seemed as good a time as ever. Now I can stop feeling like I need to write this to justify having a blog at all, so yay.

Put plainly, I hate Bayonetta because the message that it sends is that sexually powerful women are dangerous, that women use sex as a weapon, and that sex is the ONLY weapon women have.

Am I taking the game too personally? Probably, but look at the messages that women receive on a daily basis: our value is based on our bodies, and sex depreciates that value. If we’re open about our sexuality, have multiple partners, if we even show too much of our precious woman-skin, we lose value; it’s like there’s a Kelley Blue Book for women. We’ve all heard the complaint that men are rewarded for having a healthy interest in sex while women are punished, but it’s true. That’s why being a “stud” is a good thing, and being a “slut” is not. “Pimps” have swag, “whores”… well. You see where this is going.

A lot of people would argue that having such a blatantly sexual female protagonist is awesome, that her in-your-face sexuality is empowering. I respectfully disagree, and partly for this reason: when discussing this game with a male friend, he said, “Well, yes, but honestly you know this game wasn’t made for women. Bayonetta is a male wank fantasy, pure and simple.”

A wank fantasy. Bayonetta slides neatly into the same category as strippers, prostitutes, and porn stars- women you could argue are also sexually empowered, and who are vilified by society for being so.

“But Bell,” you might be saying, “You love Lara Croft, and look at them titties!” And then I would reply, “Don’t call them ‘titties’, what are you, twelve?” Then I would go on to explain that YES, I fucking love Lara Croft, and it’s because she may be sexual, but her sexuality is not her defining characteristic. It is not her only weapon and it is not her only tool. She is smart, she is educated, she is resourceful and determined. These may be characteristics that Bayonetta shares, but if they are it certainly isn’t highlighted in the game.

Sex is Bayonetta’s weapon. One of her more powerful combat moves is pole dancing, and her special attack- called a “climax”- is basically nudity.

If her health gets low, just give her a lollipop to suck on! All better!


Want to buff her? (Her abilities, you perverts.) GIVE HER JEWELRY.

And since the developers were committed to this theme, the ending credits even feature an extra-special Bayonetta pole-dance.

She is sexually powerful, sex is her only tool, and she kills people (well, demons) with sex.

Sexually powerful women are dangerous and have no other tools at their disposal. So sayeth Bayonetta.

The gameplay was fun, the dialogue was clever, and the story was interesting, but the way the main character was portrayed was not empowering. It was disheartening. Honestly, she makes me sad.

I’d wear the hell out of those shoes, though.

Edit: My Twitter buddy @frayjoker posted a very smart rebuttal, looking at the game and the character from an angle that I had not considered. It’s well worth reading.

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