Female gamers who show "too much" skin, are occupying the minds of some gamers. That's normal, you might say. You would be right, if it wasn't for the video by Sky Williams and the discussion that followed. In the discussion we learn what is it exactly that troubles the mind of those gamers.
The article on Kotaku gives an overview of the discussion. It is a good piece that brings all the views and arguments to the table. The short version: is it ok or not for gamers to show skin... Boobs, for god sake, why are they beating around the bushes? We are talking about boobs. or at the very least, cleavage.
From the article:
„(Sky) Williams argued that women who don't cover up — who use Twitch overlays that focus more on their physical characteristics than games — are trading credibility for popularity, for easy hits from horny dudes. In doing so, he claimed, they aren't just hurting themselves, but all women streamers.“
Oh no, they are hurting all women...
I am annoyed that people have the audacity to tell others what to wear. I am terrified by the larger context here: the use of pro-women, anti objectifying argument to oppress women.
Lets kick this up to the 40,000 feet view for a moment.
Nudity, for "modern" civilization is a problem. Society taught us that we should be prudent, that showing skin is "slutty". We hide our bodies most of the day. In fact we see over-dressing as distinguished (3-piece suits), while showing skin as common (tank tops).
We also know that our society uses suggested (and not so suggested) nudity and sexuality all the time. Ads are obviously the most talked about issues, but it doesn't end there. Nudity and sexuality are powerful. They are powerful because they are scarce and we covet them.
Sex, Nudity and game culture
The way ad agencies use women in their campaigns is a bigger discussion. It ties into what I want to talk about, but it deserves (and receives) it's own space to be discussed. Let us drop a few feet and look at a smaller part of that discussion: Game culture.
Game culture is affected by the general culture.
There is a reason for the (insane) amount of female-characters-fighting-against-monsters-while-wearing-an-armor-that-protects-their-nipples-and-crotch-only. Games used the female form as a marketing tool even when that form was nothing more than a bunch of pixels. You can hardly find a game in which the female form is not placed as an object of desire. This whole point was and is at the core of #gamersgate. and it ties into the current discussion.
Sex, nudity, skin and context
The TL;DR of it is simple: When you tell women things like "you don't need to wear clothing that show your boobs (skin, sorry, skin) to get attention" you are no better than those who look at said boobs with uncontrolled lust. Both of you are objectifying these women. The puritans did not care for their women, they wanted to control them. Covering skin is not a way to give respect. It is nothing more than another attempt to suppress the natural and beautiful sexuality that lies within us all.
Yes, I think that human sexuality is a good thing, and nudity is a beautiful thing. Nudity and sexuality do not have to mean abuse and objectification. Unfortunately, they are too often used for abuse and objectification. Even so, it's not your place to tell women to cover themselves.
It might be that these girl streamers do this because they feel it's the only way to get attention. It might also be that they just want to wear tank tops. But what do you know, they are girls, they have boobs and they should not feel wrong that they do.
Wait, but my intentions are pure
Then look and comment on the games they stream and the way they do the show. Like you would to those other streamers, you know, those with no boobs, how are they called? right, boys. privileged 49% of the population who can wear anything they want without anyone calling them out on that.
Comment on the game, comment on the show. If these girls are showing skin because they think it's the only way to get viewers, and they see comments that are about the game and the show and not about their looks, they might decide that they can wear that turtle neck shirt they love so much.
But, they might just keep showing skin, because you know what? they don't really care what you think about their looks and that's how they want to dress up, and that is really fine.
A rose by any other name...
In my mind this call out for girls to cover themselves, is the same campaign we have seen for years: we try to "educate" girls and women to protect themselves and wear "respectable clothing” (you know, not provocative... like those horrible T-shirts that show elbows), instead of educating boys and men to stop raping women.
The problem, at the core, is not that female gamers are playing games while showing skin (intentionally or unintentionally). The problem is that it's an issue in the first place. It all goes back to a frame of mind that support this "fact": women are the ones who need to make sure they are not seductive. It is their responsibility to make sure no to raise the urges of men. Well, I’m sorry but f$#k men. It they can’t control their urges, well maybe they should be restrained. Maybe they should not be allowed to watch videos, maybe they should earn the right to look at women.
Women have boobs, and they like to wear whatever they like to wear because it makes them feel good. It's not about you, it's about them. And that's the real problem isn't it? Female gamers who actually feel ok with who they are and what they do... Drives you crazy doesn't it? well deal with it.