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Why a slap on the backside isn’t all that innocent

“A firm, open-palm slap on the behind” is what I thought of on reading about Duke Nukem Forever’s multiplayer ‘thing’. A Family Guy joke – back from when the show was still funny – lampooning sexist attitudes. A good joke. The kind of thing that suits Duke Nukem as a character perfectly – something I still think now. But after a discussion on the matter with a friend, I came to the conclusion that it’s not all that innocent.

Why am I verging on offended by its inclusion? Well, it’s multiplayer, so you won’t be playing as Duke – at least not as far as I’m aware. If it was the bleached blonde douchebag (who I love) then it would fit, it would be part of the character and it would be the kind of bullshit we can laugh off as being a satire of the macho, sexist culture Duke lampoons. It’s not a physical gesture I like in the slightest*, but its inclusion in the game makes perfect sense. If Duke is the one doing the arse-slapping.

You take it away from Duke, as seems to be the case here, and it stops being something we can laugh at – it stops being ‘in character’. It becomes sordid, wrong and makes us all complicit in perpetuating the notion that acts like these are ‘okay’. This isn’t a case of ‘it will make people do it in real life’ – it’s a case of a game where you can choose to subdue a woman if she steps out of line. For no reason other than she’s a woman. It’s not because of the character you are, the story you’re taking part in and it cannot be argued away as absolutely necessary or ‘just a bit of fun’. It’s stupid and pointless, and it’s annoyed me.

Not to quote a writer for a magazine from a rival publishing house, but I will – PC Gamer’s really rather sexy Owen Hill put it in a far more succinct fashion than I ever could:

“Randy’s clarification is welcome, but Duke is still capturing a woman and subduing her if she resists. If the “love smack” helps you to win the round, it’s plain weird. If the “love smack” has no discernable effect, why is it there? So we can laugh at the “Babe” getting slapped before scoring a point?”

This is all based on an assumption, admittedly. There is always the chance we will all be playing as Duke online, and if that’s the case then fair enough – it fits. It can be fairly argued off as (ham-fisted) satire. But the simple act of changing a skin can, as far as I’m concerned, raise some entirely stupid, unnecessary concerns that both could and should be avoided. Having a comedy macho douche as a main character does not give you carte blanche to be complicit in the acceptance of blatant sexism. Keep it in character, please.

I’m going to take my feminist hat off, now.

*Apart from jokingly to significant others, or to those I count as friends. Then it’s BRILLIANT.

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  • I believe in DN3D everyone played as Duke in multiplayer. I’d be surprised if that wasn’t still the case.

  • Ian Dransfield

    But back then it was more likely to be a case of limitations/not having bothered allowing other skins for players.

    You know how much gamers apparently love other skins – mainly because of how much of that kind of crap is sold via DLC – so I can see it taking the Dukeisms away from Duke. Thus my problem with it, as it can’t be argued away or justified when it’s being done by a character we know nothing about.

  • Pat

    dude… its a pancaking video game.
    you’re putting TOO MUCH THOUGHT into it..

    I play video games to do pancake I would never do in real life, like drive a tank, crash a car into a crowd of civilians, and you’re going to draw the line at A SLAP on the pancake?

    while I understand where you’re coming from, I do not agree. In fact, If I don’t get to thoroughly pound some butt cheeks, I’m going to blame it on you.

    take everything I’ve just said in the lightest manner, I meant it with no offense

    [edited for poor language choices]

  • Pat

    I guess I said too many Pancakes

  • Ian Dransfield

    Murder, theft and general illegal behaviour isn’t exactly the same as a pervasive attitude perpetuated in many social circles being included in a game for seemingly no reason. It’s precisely why I’m so annoyed with it, that so many people are brushing it off as something that can be ignored or overlooked.

    That’s exactly WHY negative attitudes and stereotypes about women* persist – because people allow them to perpetuate, and don’t react when something as pancaking stupid as this crops up. I’m all for stupidity and low brow games – I love Bulletstorm – but for me this has just hit a nerve and pancaked me off.

    *And people of different races, nationalities, religions, creeds, colours, whatever.

  • KeeperOfTheWord

    Might wanna limit your sugar intake there. You could get type-2 diabetes.

  • Jaih

    Ian…… Stop being such a pussy.

    Maybe you could kindly remove your tampon, and place it inside your purse, then light them on fire. Sit back for a moment and remmebr what it’s like to be a man. A bit of adivce, women’s Number 1 complaint these days are that men are not sexually aggressive enough. Problem is, all you corporate monkeys have been through so many sexual harrassment training video’s, that your affraid to say good morning to a female, let alone pass on the fact that your sexually attracted to them.

    If a woman finds what you’ve done to be inappropriate, they’ll let you know. Now re-insert your tampon, before you go out in the rain at 8:30 tonigh…. her snack isn’t going to get itself.

  • Garan

    Ian are you actually being serious for once?It’s hard to tell.

  • KeeperOfTheWord

    Jaih sounds like a sex offender in court…