The Man with Boobs Trope

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Vegosiux:
My thoughts?

"Oh for crying out loud, you've succeeded it making me simply not care about anything other than what's fun to me as far as the entertainment industry is concerned."

Oh and by the way, I totally love a refined and elegant female character who also kicks ass.

I agree on that last point, playing through FF13-3 recently there's a bit in one of the story missions where Lightning has to get a fancy dress to infiltrate this palace - the dress actually gives some pretty useful fire-based abilities, but even after the mission I kept it equipped purely because Lightning looked really elegant and beautiful in it, and I liked the idea of the Saviour running around fighting monsters while looking like she should be at a masquerade ball :)

Phasmal:

generals3:

So "To put it simply, there are just too many dicks on the dance floor!" was just a brainfart? Nono, it's quite simply a complaint about the men with tits concept. Well actually it's that mixed with a general complaint about the violence-centric mechanics of many games.

Actually it's a Flight of the Concords reference mixed in with talking about how the people who are developing games are mainly male.

... It's a joke.

Feminists can make jokes, you know.

M-hmm. First time I hear about that reference.

I'll hand in my geek badge now, I suppose.

PS: This is why you shouldn't make jokes if you consider yourself "academic". Some people might have not heard it before and will take you literally. But it's their own fault, right!!!

I don't really recall any good examples of this trope. I know people attempted to use it to describe Lara Croft. I think my main issue with it is that it defines certain traits as being the purview of males exclusively. These traits are always given a negative connotation in subsequent analysis (violent, abrasive, greedy, proud and so on).

The root of the problem is supposedly poor writing but I actually think it boils down to the motivations of these characters not being feminine enough in some people's view. In my view, no trait should be designated masculine or feminine. Of course, there are traditional contexts that designate traits as such but I don't think that means we should aspire to write characters that way. You can certainly write a strong female character that is decidedly feminine but the mere existence of traditional male traits in her person should not ever be seen as a negative. Especially if she is written well otherwise.

brtt150:
---

Listen, I don't care what you just said, but you have a Nonon avatar, which wins you points in my book. She was my favorite character in KlK.

Especially since the way she was, it didn't matter what gender she was, she was just herself.

I believe the term is applied to cases where they literally take a male character and make them female without any thoughts of how that'd change their attitudes, body language, inter-personal dynamics or really anything at all besides a switch to have female physical options (which includes boobs). The reason why FemShep is referred to as such is because she uses male animations and has little change is interpersonal interactions. But, I'm not saying that FemShep is a bad female character, her masculinity is part of her character just as much as her awkward dance moves, but it wasn't a choice, it was laziness. Compare and contrast that to how that effects the Female Warden, she is far more believable because her gender effects how the world sees her, with Sten being confused about her role as a warrior (not the class), with people being surprised with her joining the wardens, and with how people see you and react to you. In Mass Effect there is a lot less of that, though some of it can be explained away by the reduction of prejudice in the world, a lot of it is based off of sheer laziness, especially shown with the existence and role of the Asari, if Shepard wasn't intended to be primarily male there wouldn't of been nearly as much Asari in strip clubs and working as prostitutes (hell when Mass Effect 1 opens up you meet and great Sha'ira, who is a prostitute who even employs female humans).

lacktheknack:
We're not talking about Bob from Fight Club? Oh. Awwww.

I expected that too.

OT: Wherether a woman with "masculine" personality traits is a good or bad thing depends on who writes it. Some people can pull it off, others just flop.

Notshauna:
I believe the term is applied to cases where they literally take a male character and make them female without any thoughts of how that'd change their attitudes, body language, inter-personal dynamics or really anything at all besides a switch to have female physical options (which includes boobs).

But the million dollar question is, if men and women are the same, why'd those changes occur at all...? Isn't saying that some sort of admission that there indeed are differences between men and women?

That's a can o' worms so many people are trying really hard to keep closed.

So, what is it? "Anything a man can do, a woman can do better" or "We acknowledge and celebrate the differences"?

Lieju:

I have seen it on a feminist article somewhere...
Although it was in the meaning of making a sexist setting and then pretending it wasn't sexist when putting in a female character.
Rather than just criticism on tough female characters.

That doesn't seem very extreme, though.

I mean, maybe extreme by Thunderf00t standards, but not by anyone grounded.

Vegosiux:

Notshauna:
I believe the term is applied to cases where they literally take a male character and make them female without any thoughts of how that'd change their attitudes, body language, inter-personal dynamics or really anything at all besides a switch to have female physical options (which includes boobs).

But the million dollar question is, if men and women are the same, why'd those changes occur at all...? Isn't saying that some sort of admission that there indeed are differences between men and women?

That's a can o' worms so many people are trying really hard to keep closed.

So, what is it? "Anything a man can do, a woman can do better" or "We acknowledge and celebrate the differences"?

The last one. But, such differences are societal, so in theory in a gender role-less society such things wouldn't exist, but Mass Effect is certainly not such a world as such a world is so different than our own to be completely beyond imagination.

lacktheknack:
We're not talking about Bob from Fight Club? Oh. Awwww.

Same here, that might have actually been interesting and not maddeningly tired. But no, more female representation.

I thought that "Men With Boobs" was a bit of an end-goal. Obviously, it would be better if activities didn't instantly cause assumptions of gender, but hey, small steps.

I don't think the end-goal was ever to remove all character traits that could identify someone as a woman besides physical appearance. That would seemingly defeat the purpose of having female roles to begin with. I think people just people want more variety when it comes to female characters, that would "men with boobs" and girly-girls and many other things as well.

I reject the notion that men and women are inherently different. However, being a woman does inform how you behave and how people behave towards you. Simply gender swapping a male character without changing the story to reflect such a change is lazy writing and denies the reality of being a woman in a gender divided society. It's different if you're writing about some post-gender futuristic culture. But most game narratives aren't trying to depict that.

Take Brienne of Tarth. She is a woman and that presents obstacles for her, even though she is a powerful knight. She feels like a real person who is relatable and able to be sympathised with. Now imagine that everything in the book was exactly the same, including dialogue and character interactions, but the Hound was suddenly female. That would be awkward and make no sense within the context of the world.

At least, that's how I understand it.

generals3:

Anita Sarkeesian. She actually did complain about the men with boobs concept:

"Not only are these games dominated by male characters but even the few women characters who do get staring roles are often made to replicate overly patriarchal, violent, macho behavior (but inside of a hyper sexualized female body). Not surprisingly the vast majority of game producers, designers and writers in the industry are still men.

To put it simply, there are just too many dicks on the dance floor!"

Apparently a woman displaying certain traits is just the same as a man. (which is quite ironic considering afterwards she's trying to convince us men and women are the same... Oh the backpedaling)

Bingo. On the one hand, Anteater Kardashian is trying to demolish gender roles, and on the other hand she's invoking very gendered and normative reasoning to make a point. (This female character is acting "too male"? I thought a woman with agency was allowed to act however she pleased, even if that meant bucking gender roles, hmmmm?)

Basically it's Sarkeesian's way of taking a cheap shot at "Patriarchal" values like strength, violence, stoicism, and so on. This is one of the reasons that I always felt it very disingenuous when she phrases her arguments in the form of an appeal for diversity: no, she doesn't want diversity, she wants to change the paradigm and shift the goalposts to suit her personal philosophy.

This is a stupid concept, and even worse whenever it's mention in a sexism discussion. Why? Because it means that certain personality traits are ONLY for a specific gender and no other. Gods forbid you were to have a pussy of a man, or an extremely hot-headed woman.

Vegosiux:

So, what is it? "Anything a man can do, a woman can do better" or "We acknowledge and celebrate the differences"?

ugghh I hate that term....its always used in a terrible way...

I think we should be less concerned about how masculine/feminine characters are and more about how much development they get in the headspace

for example one bad example of "strong female charachter" is one (usually the token female) who acts angry and hot headed for no aparent reason and this sometimes is even a turn on for the mild mannered "everyman" protagonist eg they meet for the first time and she punches him for....reasons....

I always thought that FemShep was a pen-and-paper character. Since when women can't be hardened on the battle field?

(I'm going to regret my choices of words).

Besides, if this is a sexist tropes, why does it have its own "real life" section in the tropes page. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheLadette

Phasmal:

Though it's legit if they're talking about a female character just being pasted over the male one (i.e. Femshep's Bro-walk).

I was more comfortable with that then the "female" walk/run they gave her in 3. *shudder* It was almost as bad as Yuna from FFX-2. Femshep don't have time to walk like a girl, she's here to kick ass and take names!

I think they mean when a woman is so overtly foul mouthed/Aggressive/violent/muscular etc. When they basically display literally no feminine traits at all.

Its basically saying the writer is trying too hard and they have basically created a bland gravelly voiced bad ass, the like of which we've seen many times before, but this time said bad ass has tits.

Its a valid criticism. And it is bad if the character is the only one with real development in the story, it'd be ok say if there were other female characters to balance her out. Say if we were having very one dimensional characters, a crazy girl, a wily girl and a timid girl. I don't think the character is a bad female character as long as she is balanced out with a load of other different female characters, like in real life there are different kinds of women.

The same thing goes for male characters, they need balance. Gears of War for example isn't a bad example of this. Marcus Fenix is.
hear me out...

Marcus Fenix: Grim gravelly badass
Dom: Sidekick guy, beta male, chilled out dude
Baird: Sarcastic, witty, creative type
Cole: Cheerful, Enthusiastic

Zhukov:
The only time I've seen that phrase or something similar used as a criticism is a passing mention in an Anita Sarkeesian video, accompanied with an image of Kara Thrace ('Starbuck') from Battlestar Galactica.

I might have seen it used once or twice as a criticism of Mass Effect. ("Femshep shouldn't count as a female character/protagonist since she's exactly the same as dudeshep, just a different character model and voice".)

...

It's funny that you mentioned those two examples. Starbuck has also been hailed as progressive as gender bending an originally male character into a strong female character.

About FemShep, I just find that to be silly. There are people (on this site) that beg for gender options to be the standard of every game but yet turn around and complain about mass effect having that very option. FemShep has a female appearance and voice (a sexy voice) but those differences are not enough for some people. A few people on here have mentioned the major complaint is the walking animation.
Yet, people herald Saints Row 2-4 as having the most and best gender options. At the risk of being wrong, I'm going to say that the female and male model have the exact same walking/mobility animations. So to me, those games have the same thing: different models and different voices. (I am open to being proved wrong)

I said all that to not debate you but to make a point. There are too many differing opinions and too many people saying this is "right or wrong" based on a trope. I think people have become too...obsessed with tropes and the word "trope" is slowly, if not already, becoming a word of negative connotations. Tropes should just be considered for what they are, observations of common themes and ideas.

Whether the character is a dainty guy or a butch woman, a hulking knight or a woeful damsel, it is not a matter of them being a right or wrong type character but a matter of how well done and how believable the character is in the context of the story they exist in.

To throw my two cents at the topic, I have also heard/read complaints about said trope. I think it's pointless to complain about it. Yes, people think that our society perceives physical activity and violence to be inherently male traits but there is a difference in what people perceive and what actually is. That perception is flat out wrong in our modern times. Certain things are gender-neutral despite the outdated perceptions people may have. Women can be physically aggressive and men wear eyeliner and get their nails done.

There are female body builders who are hulking and massive in musculature.
I don't know how this was resolved but some years ago female soldiers were complaining about not being able to serve on the front lines during combat. There are women that can run, jump, shoot, kill and cause explosions. Those kind of women, those kind of people exist in real life. Does anyone want to face them, call them men with boobs and call their lifestyle wrong?

People are varied and diverse. That diversity should extend to our fiction. People should stop focusing on "this one thing" to complain about it. People should focus on what they like and ignore what they dislike.

surprised no one has posted this yet
http://www.marvelousmanboobs.com/

OT: I don't see why females can't have masculine traits or why males can't have feminine traits.

Phasmal:

Actually it's a Flight of the Concords reference mixed in with talking about how the people who are developing games are mainly male.

... It's a joke.

Feminists can make jokes, you know.

Not sure why you'd imply she's representative of feminists in general (and if she's than i'll be a sad panda). And second of all since all the video shows are male VG characters and not developers it seems to make more sense she's referring to said characters. But than again, it's not like making sense is her specialty.

And while it may be a joke of some sort it's quite clear that it's also serious. (Since she clearly had an issue with the actual amount of dicks)

generals3:

Phasmal:

Actually it's a Flight of the Concords reference mixed in with talking about how the people who are developing games are mainly male.

... It's a joke.

Feminists can make jokes, you know.

Not sure why you'd imply she's representative of feminists in general (and if she's than i'll be a sad panda). And second of all since all the video shows are male VG characters and not developers it seems to make more sense she's referring to said characters. But than again, it's not like making sense is her specialty.

And while it may be a joke of some sort it's quite clear that it's also serious. (Since she clearly had an issue with the actual amount of dicks)

Oh wow. That last part was also a joke. I'm not implying she's a representative of anyone.
I was merely pointing out the reference to a funny song. People take all this way too seriously.

I'm going to slowly back away from this thread now, avoiding eye contact.

Let me see if I can back this up to the original point, because I think I know the phenomenon being talked about and it grates on my nerves like nobody's business too. I've never watched Ms. Sarkeesian's videos and don't plan to, but I think I know what's being discussed.

The problem is all because of this oversimplification that "power = masculinity", and the reverse that being feminine CAN'T be powerful.

It's kind of like somebody prattling on about how they "aren't like those other girls" because they don't wear makeup and watch Dr. Who and play video games. At first glance it might seem on the surface like a positive step forward if someone is proud about giving up those 'traditionally feminine' qualities and remaining a girl. However, there's still a big problem - and that is that when you do that "I'm not like those other girls!" thing, you throw other women under the bus. If you say you're "not like those other girls" because you're intelligent, you're really saying that all the other women are unintelligent, etc. etc.

This trope kinda does the same thing. It directly correlates having power, having battlefield prowess, having physical strength, kicking ass, having agency, being able to affect what's going on in the world around them, etc etc with... having masculine characteristics. That means they're also making the point that if you DON'T have these masculine characteristics, you can't have power, can't have battlefield prowess, can't have physical strength, can't have agency, can't affect the world around you, and can't kick ass.

Then it's just the same ol' same ol' bullshit wrapped up in a new package.

I'm not going to begrudge every female character that has masculine qualities for this. I think if people stop and make the character have reasons and depth, this can work. However unfortunately a lot of people don't go that far, and just put up a female character with the depth of a cardboard cutout, and go "look! she's empowered! you can tell because she's manly!". And that makes me want to bash holes in the wall with my head out of sheer frustration.

There's more than one way to be a girl, and you can have agency and be powerful many different ways. Not just by being like a dude.

(Unfortunately, when a lot of dumb writers try to make a girly girl that has that agency, they end up with something also detestable - because they think the only two states a girl can be are "manly" and "very fuckable". They think the only other way to be a woman is to be appealing to them and to be sexually available to them. Then you get a cardboard cutout character with zero depth that's just an insulting parody. The true solution is to stop thinking of women as weird strange things and to actually write them, design them, animate them etc. as PEOPLE, with DEPTH and REASONS FOR THEIR ACTIONS, but that is sadly pretty uncommon in media these days. It sucks. And that's kind of another topic anyway, lol.)

Because those characters usually come across like someone wrote the script for an all male cast, and then they decided to cast Michelle Rodriguez for one of the parts instead. They often come off as well one dimensional, because being a badass is their only character trait.
It can work though. Real life military women are often more than capable of handing your arse to you, just like Starbuck or whoever. Just as long as they're, you know, actual characters. That feel like actual people.

I don't think it's offensive, it's just kinda lazy/bad writing. A sub-trope of having all your characters have, say, the same political opinions if you're Ayn Rand or something. Generally speaking if you're writing a culture with specialized gender roles you need to find a way to have the characters that defy those roles still use them as a base reference in some way.

It's mainly notable in generic brown space marine shooters, because every member of the squad is the same grizzled angry white guy, and swapping the color pallets and adding boob armor to one model does nothing to really conceal this.

Phasmal:
When was the last time you actually heard this criticism?

I keep hearing about criticism of criticism without actually hearing any criticism in the first place.

Anyway, I don't particularly give much of a fuck about the `Man with Boobs` thing, because I'm pretty sure if you described my personality and hobbies to a third party without mentioning my gender, they would think I was a boy. And I'm kinda fine with that.

Though it's legit if they're talking about a female character just being pasted over the male one (i.e. Femshep's Bro-walk).

I personally make that criticism sometimes. For one, I feel like that archetype isn't very deep or interesting character-wise anyway, but if they're female they get praised as being strong, female characters. Samus is the example that immediately comes to mind.

Second is that it kind of goes hand in hand with this trope. It's definitely lessened a lot, but a while back it seemed like traits traditionally associated with femininity like wearing nice clothes, cooking, wanting to be mothers, etc. were being demonized. I mean, yeah women shouldn't be expected to be like that just because they're female but that doesn't mean that if women do like those things it's bad. Likewise in fiction, female characters can embody some of those traditionally female ideals and be strong (like being a resilient single mother raising a family in poverty or something) without having to kill things or subverting the feminine in some other way.

Depends on the context, specifically on how the other female characters are portrayed.

If you only have one heroic female character, and they are much more like the male characters than the other female characters, then it's a fair criticism.

nomotog:

erttheking:

nomotog:
I don't recall seeing a lot of complaints about this trope as a whole it's not bad by itself. It can some times come off as lazy. That the people writing/designing the character didn't put enough effort into the female version for them to really look female. Like how femshep uses male shep's animations and doesn't know how to sit in a skirt. Then the fact that it's never men who are made from female bases and animations more just goes to highlight the big problem.

Then on the other hand. I have mused that femshep using male shep's animations gives her a little bit of character that male shep doesn't have. She is a woman who sits like a man. She kind of goes counter to what you might expect from a woman. It gives her a little big of accidental characterization.

Now on my other other had. (My third hand.) If you went into a game with a female character expecting them to be female and found that they used the same walk animation as the guy character, you might feel cheated by that. Like your choice of gender didn't warrant the creation if a proper walk animation. You never see male characters with female walk animations because the game was to didn't want to give them their own animation.

So sum up. Kind of highlights the bigger problem, but I don't think it's the worst trope in the gender dynamics index. It's better to have men with boobs then no women at all.

Edit: Is it just me or dose the term man with boobs sound a little offensive?

I feel like I'd be ok with a female character sitting and walking like a man if all the other female characters didn't do the same. It'd feel like a character trait and stick out more if she did. Then again, you have a point in that it makes the gender select feel a bit invalid. It makes me wish more game devs took the Saints Row 2 route. There are actually several different walking and running animations in that game. You want to make a man walk in a feminine manner or a woman run in a masculine manner? Knock your socks off! I wish more games did that. Sunset overdrive seems to have that mindset going on with all the clothing being wearable by men and women, but somehow I doubt that they'd have customizable walk animations.

I always wish more games would go the saints row 2 route. I just love the customization in that game. It sex slider, not a toggle, a slider. No other game has that. Though there is something to note about the walk animations. They were only walk animations not full animation sets. The game had two sets run animations male and females, but a bug would cause you to default to the male one. (I think on loading, but I don't recall exactly what triggered it.)

Maybe sunset overdrive will have multiple movement sets. We still don't know a lot about it. They do have a thing about customization and movement, so who knows.

No matter what, I just can't get it out of my head that Playa is a hermaphrodite. How else am I supposed to interpret a sex slider? Or even better yet, I have a fan theory that "he" got so fucked up by the blast that the reconstructive surgeon decided "fuck it, he likes fashion. Let's re-work the plumbing!"

I think it rather fitting that something has just shown up on a certain person twitter account.

Anita Sarkeesian:

Simply swapping a woman into the shell of what is ostensibly another violent sexist dude character, does not a good representation make.

So I think at this point those on about how no-one says this and people are simply claiming criticising non existent criticism might want to look at the tweet in question as it appears it does happen often enough for people to say something and to call the nonsense.

Though the argument being put forward is it's not a good representation of women. My question is, how many of these violent killers are really a good representation of men in the first place ?

Perhaps it's the fact that femininity is still implicitly seen as being a lesser trait than masculinity, or negative if it's not associated with sexuality, if we at least compare the number of gung-ho action girls praised for being "badass" to the often comedic mincing boys ridiculed for acting "gay" or "like a sissy".

Personally, I'd just like more variety. I've previously cited Izumi Curtis as a good example of balancing masculinity and femininity in a female character. But how many effeminate and/or sexually provocative (in the "male stripper" sense of the word, not the "Duke Nukem" sense of the word) male characters do you hear people describing as strong or badass?

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