Women vs Tropes in Video Games

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So this finally came out today and honestly I'm not sure why she needed 6000$much less 160000$ if all her videos are gonna be like this.

The delivery is boring, the so called research is shallow, she goes off topic, and the production quality is low.

That said I agree with her general idea, DID is a boring and overdone basis for a plot and its probably so common because of patriarchal values.

Honestly the only value I see in this video is just adding to the general critical mass of feminism, although not that much, rather than something that's new and brilliant and impressive and needed a kickstarter.

And frankly its some of her better work, slightly less self contradictory, slightly less cherry picking.

So this finally came out today and honestly I'm not sure why she needed 6000$My personal living expenses are around$2000/month, so $6K funding would barely let me focus on a project for 3 months full time. Of course this varies hugely depending on where you live in the world, but in a typical Western city, it isn't very much money at all... Producing video content is hard, time-consuming work. Three months expenses doesn't seem like much money at all, so it's a good thing she was over-funded on kickstarter. As for the content... I haven't watched it yet, but in my experience, many post-women's-liberation feminists are often boring and shallow and irrelevant, or are just typical misguided "social justice activists", or in the worst instances, are misandrists, so I'm not exactly her target audience (note: not saying anything about the videos, I haven't watched them / don't know anything about their author, just that feminism in general seems like a successful movement that finished a long time ago, not something relevant to me now). I grew up in a world where both genders are equal (and other/non genders, and gays, etc, too), and I don't work on games based around gender roles, so it's not really an interesting topic to me either. I'm sure there is a large demographic that probably do find this interesting though, such as her 7k kickstarter backers, so the only thing that matters is if they like the content. Share this post Link to post Share on other sites So this finally came out today and honestly I'm not sure why she needed 6000$

My personal living expenses are around $2000/month, so$6K funding would barely let me focus on a project for 3 months full time.

Of course this varies hugely depending on where you live in the world, but in a typical Western city, it isn't very much money at all... Producing video content is hard, time-consuming work. Three months expenses doesn't seem like much money at all, so it's a good thing she was over-funded on kickstarter.

I once calculated that my personal expenses amounted to 5000$a year but then I mostly need nothing but cheap packaged food and an internet connection. And rent on a serviceable apartment is like 250$. So I suppose I'm a little biased.

I've done some small videos, some up to 20 minutes, although it was mostly recording youtube videos of my game project, but I know a lot of people who do a lot of youtube videos, and its not hard time consuming work ITHO. Note that the you didn't watch the video, so the quality wouldn't be known to you. It looks like a standard youtube hobbyist video to me.

As for the content... I haven't watched it yet, but in my experience, many post-women's-liberation feminists are often boring and shallow and irrelevant, or are just typical misguided "social justice activists", or in the worst instances, are misandrists, so I'm not exactly her target audience (note: not saying anything about the videos, I haven't watched them / don't know anything about their author, just that feminism in general seems like a successful movement that finished a long time ago, not something relevant to me now).

I grew up in a world where both genders are equal (and other/non genders, and gays, etc, too), and I don't work on games based around gender roles, so it's not really an interesting topic to me either.

I'm sure there is a large demographic that probably do find this interesting though, such as her 7k kickstarter backers, so the only thing that matters is if they like the content.

I wouldn't say men and women are equal, for objective things like pay, but also for sexual violence statistics and other things. I do think certain feminist complaints are silly.

I wouldn't get caught dead on a feminist blog/forum saying what you just said though, they would probably ban you inside a few days.

She got $160,000 to make this? As a single video or a series, that's insane. If it's that easy to make money I need to set up a kickstarter for myself. I'm not sure where the money went, unless she needed to buy licensing rights to show the game characters and clips and/or she lived off of the money while producing the videos. I'm not impressed with the analysis or research, but I think that the format is probably about right for this sort of thing-- it just happens to be something that won't engross the viewer unless they're already interested. This kind of inquiry nearly always falls into "cherry picking", though that shouldn't diminish the discussion she's initiating. I won't make a broader judgment of her thesis without watching more videos, which I probably will not do, but what I saw gave me the impression of a freshman lit essay: unpolished, a little shallow, a bit self-indulgent, and not all that significant. Her kickstarter success is far more interesting than the thing that she produced. Share this post Link to post Share on other sites She got$160,000 to make this? As a single video or a series, that's insane. If it's that easy to make money I need to set up a kickstarter for myself.

I'm not sure where the money went, unless she needed to buy licensing rights to show the game characters and clips and/or she lived off of the money while producing the videos.

I'm not impressed with the analysis or research, but I think that the format is probably about right for this sort of thing-- it just happens to be something that won't engross the viewer unless they're already interested.

This kind of inquiry nearly always falls into "cherry picking", though that shouldn't diminish the discussion she's initiating. I won't make a broader judgment of her thesis without watching more videos, which I probably will not do, but what I saw gave me the impression of a freshman lit essay: unpolished, a little shallow, a bit self-indulgent, and not all that significant. Her kickstarter success is far more interesting than the thing that she produced.

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Criticism of her criticism:
- Is she saying that men caring about women and wanting to rescue women is bad? That's what the first half of the video sounds like. I think there's nothing wrong with the plot of a man wanting to rescue a woman, and instead, what her critique should have targeted is that there's few instances where a woman fights to save a man she cares about. It doesn't seem to me that this is the argument she's making (or at least it's not made that clear to me). Note that there are examples of women fighting for what they care about, albeit fewer, in both reality and fiction. Off the top of my head, Joan of Arc, and Mulan.

- Princess Peach actually gets to be a playable character in the Paper Mario series. At least one of them, I'm sure about, where she actively tries to escape and help Mario, and in fact does end up being a vital part in defeating Bowser. I know Paper Mario isn't exactly the main franchise, but if I've heard about it, and I don't actually research these things, she should have mentioned this also. She either didn't consider it worhty of mention - in which case I'll argue she's only considering limited examples, or she didn't do her research.

- Ok, I know its not really mainstream game (but agian RESEARCH!) - when she says "Zelda has never been the star of her own adventure ... in the core series" - ok, some might argue on technicalities here, but google Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, where Zelda is on her own quest to kill Ganon. Yes, it's generally considered a not-so-good game, and it has its Link-as-the-Hero counterpart, but she doesn't mention it. The two reasons why she doesn't mention it are the same as above for Peach and Paper Mario. Either she's selectivly picking her arguments, or she hasn't done her research (both are bad in my view)

Criticism for funding:
- You know, somepeople produce videos like this without having to resort to a kickstarter. Look at some people like the AVGN or Nostalgia Critic (two I'm most familiar with). They didn't have tons of initial funding, and they weren't even doing it for a cause, they were just doing it for fun. If she really cared she basically could have done this with little or no funding.
In a very ironic way, she becomes her own damsel in (financial) distress, unable to do what other people have done, without the support of an outside (funding) source.

Criticism of research:
- Maybe I'm more of a gamer than the average person, but I knew most of this info. Her research barely goes in more depth than what an average gamer could've done in a few weeks. Again, this is really subjective so, its highly debatable.

I'm not saying her video is bad - it was interesting to watch, but as she points out, its possible and often necessary to both enjoy and critically critique something at the same time.
At the end, I think a video game where an average woman goes on her quest to save the prince she loves would probably be just as fun as games the other way around - so, there's not really a good reason for companies to not do this, so she has a point in that games often go for just stereotypes since it's easier. And I think it's doable too.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

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My personal living expenses are around \$2000/month,

http://sfist.com/attachments/SFist_Brock/SF-Infographic.png

Well I'm off to go read tvtropes.com

I think when a lot of feminists got up in arms over the new Tomb Raider they really hurt an otherwise credible argument in my mind. When developers took active steps to show a strong female lead with depth that took steps toward being less of a sexual object and it was met with, "THIS IS EVEN MORE SEXIST!" I stopped listening.

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If she really cared she basically could have done this with little or no funding.

You realise that applies to everything, right?

If you really care about games you can make one yourself. Why pay developers?

Fresh water and sanitation is important, so people should gladly treat the water and install sewers for you and enjoy the pride of a job well done and countless lives saved.

Effort takes time, and time spent incurs costs. The fact that some people either have enough free time or enough free money to do cool stuff on the side shouldn't fool us into thinking that everything worthwhile should be done for free. If you want to see a better world, reward the people who try to bring it about.

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I don't know why people are caring so much about how much money she made or anything beside the content of the video.

She touches a topic that is out there: women want a different role on the media.

I will use Milcho post to reply to some points

Criticism of her criticism:
- Is she saying that men caring about women and wanting to rescue women is bad? That's what the first half of the video sounds like. I think there's nothing wrong with the plot of a man wanting to rescue a woman, and instead, what her critique should have targeted is that there's few instances where a woman fights to save a man she cares about. It doesn't seem to me that this is the argument she's making (or at least it's not made that clear to me). Note that there are examples of women fighting for what they care about, albeit fewer, in both reality and fiction. Off the top of my head, Joan of Arc, and Mulan.

She makes very clear at the end of the video that she loves the Mario series and Zelda and doesn't criticize the plot. She says that she hopes Peach, Zelda and other female characters are made protagonists in the next games.

She also explains what her next video will be about: what the current developers are doing around this theme and which games are trying to flip the coin.

Note that the movie industry is also flipping the coin a bit slowly right now. Animations are starting to present female protagonists: Brave

Criticism for funding:
- You know, somepeople produce videos like this without having to resort to a kickstarter. Look at some people like the AVGN or Nostalgia Critic (two I'm most familiar with). They didn't have tons of initial funding, and they weren't even doing it for a cause, they were just doing it for fun. If she really cared she basically could have done this with little or no funding.
In a very ironic way, she becomes her own damsel in (financial) distress, unable to do what other people have done, without the support of an outside (funding) source.

What she intends to do is something like a documentary. This fits really well a kickstarter campaign. I dont know about those other people you cited, but the amount of money she asked for is not a ton (6k only).

- Ok, I know its not really mainstream game (but agian RESEARCH!) - when she says "Zelda has never been the star of her own adventure ... in the core series" - ok, some might argue on technicalities here, but google Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, where Zelda is on her own quest to kill Ganon. Yes, it's generally considered a not-so-good game, and it has its Link-as-the-Hero counterpart, but she doesn't mention it. The two reasons why she doesn't mention it are the same as above for Peach and Paper Mario. Either she's selectivly picking her arguments, or she hasn't done her research (both are bad in my view)

I agree with you here. She may not cite some games so that she can make her point more clear. Or maybe on edition it was cut off.

Still, the conclusion of the video was valid imo. Games with the Damsel in Distress plot are ok, but wouldn't hurt to have a big production on a female protagonist.

Edited by kuramayoko10

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You realise that applies to everything, right?

All the examples you gave as counter arguments are talking about different things:  (also just because it can apply to almost everything, doesn't make the argument less valid....)

1. I didn't say she couldn't support other videos... in fact this argument isn't even countering what I said.

2. Yeah, in fact, if you really cared about music, you would be happy to have your music heard. Lots of spare-time musicians do this. If you're doing something as a spare time project (which is what I'm talking about in my argument), you should have no problem about this. If you're doing something as a full-time job, then it's impossible for you to live without food, place to live etc. My point was that I have indeed seen people who've made similar videos in their spare time as a hobby for free. And they've done it simply because they like doing that sort of thing. As an example, I'm still trying to make a video game of my own. While I have no funding, I don't plan on asking for funding at all, and I'm still trying despite that, mostly because I want to show others (including potential employers, yes) what I can do.

3. Fresh water and sanitation.. come on, that's not even close. First you're talking about things of vital importance, as opposed to hobby project. Second you're talking about full time job again. Third, you're talking about other people doing things for you for free, as opposed to you doing something for yourself (or for a cause) for free. And I'm pretty sure that people would do their best to take care of their water/sanitation if there wasn't already a tax-supported system (read: paid by you) that did this. Or at least they would try to take care of this to the best of your abilities.

A more valid comparison is saying something like: Would MLK Jr. have not tried to campaign for racial equality if he didn't have financial backing?

Sure, I agree that you can care about a subject and still want monetary support. But in this case I was saying that you actually CAN do a video like this (as I cited) without any funding. So was she underestimating her abilities? Was she using this video as a reason to get money? I don't know. I'm just saying it can be done without money.

Still, the conclusion of the video was valid imo. Games with the Damsel in Distress plot are ok, but wouldn't hurt to have a big production on a female protagonist.

Indeed, and if you read my whole response (I'm assuming you did, but I wanted to point this out) I also agree with the conclusion and what you said there.

Edited by Milcho

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I think her message is a little biased.  I do believe there are still more male lead games than female, but I don't know that is actually a problem.  Things don't have to be 50/50 for everything.  There are some things more geared towards men and there are other that are geared more towards women.

I can think of several games in which a female character had a strong role and she was not objectified.  Uncharted always had a strong female character.  While she was not playable, she was instrumental in his quest and saved him just as many times as he saved her.  Heavenly Sword had a playable female character and I thought it was a great game.  Final Fantasy series typically has female characters that are playable though sometimes they do need to be rescued.  Most MMO's let you choose between being a female or a male character.  Mrs. Pacman was also a playable character.  The game industry and the movie industry both have lots of strong female characters some dating back decades ago.  Aliens always had a strong female character.  Even more so, they made the males look helpless compared to her.  What about all of the Resident Evil franchise in both movies and games.  Resident evil 5 had a female playable character (I can't speak on the rest because I haven't played them) and all of the movies have a female lead that kicks butt.

She basically picks 2 franchises that maintain the same formula throughout.  Who can blame them though.  It is successful and why mess with success.  I didn't watch the whole video so maybe she did it later, but I would like to see statistics on this.  How many games have a strong female character.  How many women play games versus men.  What kind of profits did female games have on average versus male games.  In general, people get what people want.  As more people want strong female characters and those games are successful, more games will be made that way.

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Actually there is a lot of back story about this. But it was complex and I don't have the time.

Anyway, since there is a lot of insiders here, can someone tell me what is her relation to Electronic Arts? There are rumors going on, which might affect her transparency with games she criticize.

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- Princess Peach actually gets to be a playable character in the Paper Mario series. At least one of them, I'm sure about, where she actively tries to escape and help Mario, and in fact does end up being a vital part in defeating Bowser. I know Paper Mario isn't exactly the main franchise, but if I've heard about it, and I don't actually research these things, she should have mentioned this also. She either didn't consider it worhty of mention - in which case I'll argue she's only considering limited examples, or she didn't do her research.

Yeah, and Super Mario RPG. I'm not sure why a couple of the most popular side franchises are being left out...? I could understand not counting the mini-game festival or the go-kart racer, but SMRPG and Paper Mario have actual stories, quite in depth compared to the rest of the franchise, and each offer at least one game where she actively fights alongside Mario to help him defeat a baddy that's even beyond Bowser. In fact, the Paper Mario example is more of a platformer than an RPG... very similar to Super Mario 2 actually... I understand that the core franchise is MOST popular because, well, its core... but all of these games share the franchise's general popularity and have their place in the collective subconscious of gamers. This could have been a good moment to be like "Well, actually, here's this one time they did it right..." and then explain how this is better for women in gaming or empowerment or something.

You know, somepeople produce videos like this without having to resort to a kickstarter. Look at some people like the AVGN or Nostalgia Critic (two I'm most familiar with). They didn't have tons of initial funding, and they weren't even doing it for a cause, they were just doing it for fun. If she really cared she basically could have done this with little or no funding.
In a very ironic way, she becomes her own damsel in (financial) distress, unable to do what other people have done, without the support of an outside (funding) source.

What she intends to do is something like a documentary. This fits really well a kickstarter campaign. I dont know about those other people you cited, but the amount of money she asked for is not a ton (6k only).

Here's the thing: she INTENDS to do a documentary, but what we've gotten is at the level of videos that hobbyists are doing right now for free- like the Nostalgia Critic and AVGN as he mentions. And with six months of production time for this one video, it's obvious this wasn't just money so she could do her research without the distraction of a job, since her research is very shallow. It's relatively obvious that the entire thing went into visual effects and probably licencing characters and commercials so they could be used here, which probably means she intends to sell this on DVD or something.

If you really care about games you can make one yourself. Why pay developers?
Fresh water and sanitation is important, so people should gladly treat the water and install sewers for you and enjoy the pride of a job well done and countless lives saved.

I'm sorry if this comes across as aggressive, but your post really pisses me off so I may sound a bit irrational here. Here's the problem with your argument: she wasn't paid to do work, or because she sold a product. She basically just talked about something she wanted to do to the internet and people gave her money. That's fine and dandy if those people want to do that. But when she turns around with that money and puts out a lackluster video with shallow research, uninteresting delivery, a tired out message, six months after she announced the project... YEAH. She could have probably done this for free. Probably most of the money got put into the special effects budget and legal stuff concerning the images and video she showed. Probably so she can turn around and sell this on DVD.

The thing about the people he was citing as examples of people who do something for fun just because they like doing it, they do actually get paid. From ad revenue, but yes the Nostalgia Critic and AVGN are a couple of the most successful video creators on the internet. But they don't get paid for promising six months after their kickstarter money comes in that they'll act like an idiot on camera and make lame jokes, they just do it because it's a hobby turned career for them and people eat it up AFTER they've done the actual work.

That's like people from this site going to kickstarter and being like "Hey, I've got a cool idea for a game- with no playable demo or anything -give me money so I can turn out a cheap Mario ripoff I could have done for free!"

Maybe I'm more of a gamer than the average person, but I knew most of this info. Her research barely goes in more depth than what an average gamer could've done in a few weeks. Again, this is really subjective so, its highly debatable.

I think the biggest weakness of her research and/or delivery is she just tries to come off as a hip gamer. What would have been interesting, if she really cares about this, would have been to do some deep research into the trope: more than a two minute history on where it came from, why it appeals to mass audiences so much, the psychological impact on people who are ingrained with this trope, etc. But most of this stuff could probably be found on TvTropes anyway... Also, I think another thing that would have been good for her to do is instead make a blanket statement about ALLLLLLLLLLLL the games that use this trope, and end up mentioning five, would have been to reach for examples where this ISN'T the case. Be like "This is an example of a good female character".

The most interesting part of the video was how she explained the transition from Dinosaur Island to Star Fox Adventures... which I think I'd heard before anyway but meh. Although, level with me for a second here, in that example was it REALLY the need for an disempowered damsel that was the real nature of the change... or was it really that a game made by a tiny (and close to failing) company wasn't able to have its own voice because it wouldn't sell and so they sloppily put a franchise character from a bigger company in order to improve the sales. As an Indie Developer that makes me much more mad than the fact they used a tired out trope that has no bearing on reality.

I'm not the biggest feminist in the world, in fact I think most feminists (like her) are kind of ridiculous, but I do understand the desire and want for the sexes to be equal. I understand things like unequal pay and a frivolous attitude to certain violent crimes towards women are some of the REAL things that still affect us socially. I also think that when you cherry pick a medium for the answer, it's ridiculous and completely ignores the real problem. Saying that video games and tropes are the cause of society's ills is exaggerating at best and just misdirection at worst. You want a good argument why this is true? Look at PETA. Look at how they pick out games, because they're topical, and try to make them seem like the cause of the attitudes they're against. It's ludicrous, video games have little to no effect, at least to my knowledge of any studies on the subject, on actual animal abuse. It comes from a society that values monetary gain above all else and are willing to fight animals against each other, beat seals to death for fur, or find the most efficient but painful and humiliating way to store farm animals for slaughter. Same thing with feminists: the idea of the patriarchy is much older than video games. Video games with this trope aren't a cause, they're a symptom of the actual problem.

Edited by AniMerrill

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I'm sorry if this comes across as aggressive, but your post really pisses me off so I may sound a bit irrational here. Here's the problem with your argument: she wasn't paid to do work, or because she sold a product. She basically just talked about something she wanted to do to the internet and people gave her money. That's fine and dandy if those people want to do that. But when she turns around with that money and puts out a lackluster video with shallow research, uninteresting delivery, a tired out message, six months after she announced the project... YEAH. She could have probably done this for free.

So basically, what you are saying is that if she had made this in only 3 months, and come to a conclusion you agree with, you wouldn't be bashing her on the internet?

How many of the video games you see on kickstarter will actually be finished, in a timely manner, and to a quality to compete with AAA titles?

You can't (without a healthy dose of hypocrisy) go around bashing her for doing exactly the same thing everyone else does with kickstarter.

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this makes men the subject of narratives, while relegating women to the role of object. This is a form of objectification, because women are being acted upon.

This would also make the villain an object and being acted upon. Villains are almost always male. Thus nearly all* games with a damsel in distress are sexist against both men and women.

*Except Battletoads. That combined a damsel in distress with a female villain.

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Am I just the least-offended person regarding this video?  Maybe it’s tolerance built up from living in so many different cultures over my life.

She has her views and you have yours.  Is that not the end of it?  Why 2 pages on this?

Ironically I see most of you battling your sides as unrealistically as you claim she is battling hers.

Criticizing her amount of research is basically just lame, since there is always a way to criticize that no matter what the production is.  You can always say they didn’t mention this or that with a subject such as this.  There is literally no such thing as “enough” research.  What you say she did not mention in this video she may mention in the next, to which you would reply, “But she still didn’t mention blah blah blah.”  Do you want a 100-hour video in which all she does it mention every possible thing there is to mention?

Seriously.

It is usually more about what she chooses to mention rather than what she failed to research.

And since this is a feminist video it’s fairly obvious that she will be a bit picky on what she mentions and how she presents things.

Frankly I applaud her restraint in some cases, but her biased view does take shape in subtle areas.  She does in a few cases mention the other side of the story, but quickly gets back to her side as if to hope that we will quickly forget the exception.

Both she and most people here are making both correct and moot points.

She tries to come off as a hip gamer?  No.  She doesn’t.  No clue how anyone would think that.

She is correct that women have a certain traditional role in video games.

She is incorrect in how to go about changing that (it is assumed this is her goal, because what else would her goal be?).

Video games are made by males for males.  The only hope there is for changing that is to get more women to be gamers and especially to be developers.

When women are a major target audience, games for women will become more common-place and their role in games can slowly be changed.

A recent study showed that females have a hard time in game companies and most of them leave the industry.

I am sorry, but what do you expect to change by leaving?

You can’t make a video bashing a male-oriented industry when the only people who have a chance at changing that are just giving up.  A video aimed at bashing the females who left the industry would be more effective.  As the only possible solution to the problem, is it not their fault that it perpetuates?

But I am also tired of saving princesses etc.  She is correct that that is a very shallow and easy plot point.

But feminism in itself is also a useless thing.

Females have a role in society, which changes based on culture, but is ultimately a role they accepted over the course of the evolution of humans as a species.

You don’t see men being portrayed as helpless victims to be rescued by women.

Why?

Because men do not and never have had any tendencies to accept that role.  In fact nature dictates that men are hunters and gave them the physical structure of such.

Why are games oriented towards males?

Because they appeal to males more than they do to females.

If you want to change that, put a chemical into the rivers that will make females as competitive as males.

That being said, it is understandable to spite video games as a female.

Since men and women are definitely mentally different, there are male-only and female-only industries.  And neither has a problem with the other.

You never see women saying, “More women should be car mechanics,” nor do you see any men saying, “More men should be seamstresses.”

Both sides are happy to let the other just be.

Why?  Because those industries do not portray the other side at all.

Video-games are a male-run and male-consumed industry (you can cite statistics that show females gaming as much as males, but unfortunately the games they play are free or very cheap—an industry thrives on money, not just the total number of players, and most of it comes from males).

So why not just let the males be?

Because their games include females.

That is the source of females’ rage, but reasonable people would not be so bothered by that.

Females are the weaker sex.

Just not where it matters.

Physically?  Yes.  And a bit more submissive.

But physical strength is no longer a part of our lives.  Who cares?  Women still have an equally important role in society as men do.  There is no reason for males and females to be treated equally in all things.  If men and women were exactly the same, how could society even function?

We need to be different, and as long as those differences add up to the same overall value—which they do—then why all the fuss?

Get over it.

Women, want to get revenge on the men?

Disappear from the Earth.  That would drive the men absolutely batshit crazy.  A sign of females’ value to men despite any perceived objectification.

L. Spiro