Thursday, June 26, 2008

Christmas The Third

[For your recollection, the first two NWN/gender posts are at Always Christmas And and Still Always Christmas.]

It was doing so well up til then.

I've been loving the hell out of the NWN2 xpac. Like Hordes Of The Underdark was to the original Neverwinter Nights, I think it's the project the writers were working on while the tech team wrote the script for the base game. Somehow this one ended up with everything the base game lacked - good writing, genuine plot that twists when you prod it (virtually all quests have multiple endings, and these often affect later events), voice actors that you don't want to see taken out and shot, and some vestiges of originality, albeit within the cliché-eating-cliché that is Forgotten Realms.

And there's far more female visibility. I guess this is a product of the better writing, rather than a cause. The story happens to be set in one of Faerun's canonical matriarchies; aside from that, there's a lot more women around to talk to and get help and advice from. There are even, saints preserve us, women who organise with other women for purposes all their own.

In other words, it was doing pretty well up until we got to what Okku said to Kazimika Vadoi. Kazimika is one of the aforementioned matriarchs, though not their leader, and she didn't like us, for quite sensible reasons. This is what Okku [who is a beary spirit of bears and bearness] did to bring her into line:

I remember the prayers of the dockside girl, before she donned her mask. I remember how she begged the spirits to make her pretty, so that the sailors might whistle at her...might even pay for her company...

This is where I stop playing the game and and start throwing things at the wall behind my desk. Hello, it's the sex work trope again, and this time it's being explicitly used to disempower a previously significant female character, and to shame her, and to silence her objections towards you, no matter that it has nothing the fuck to do with those objections. Congrats, Kazimika, you're up there with Molly Millions and Catwoman in the hall of Awesomely Powerful Female SF Characters Whose History Of Sex Work Is Used Against Them By The Author Who Made That History Up In The First Place.

This is why male SF writers need to stop writing about sex work, unless, you know, they've done it themselves. Because male writers are going to keep building women up then using their own fantasies about sex work to knock them down again. In their hands, the trope is invariably hammer-shaped, and women look like nails.

[I just made an FMT tag, so's not to lose track. For fairness, see the two longest threads on this I've seen elsewhere, in which many people disagree with me; the recent FSF one and the older Alas one.]

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