This is an editorial piece. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.
Although it’s awfully trite of me to constantly bring up my age and wistfully recount those supposedly perfect and blessed days that made up the 1980s, I’m going to have to go back to them to properly explain the premise for this article. After all, the 1980s weren’t called “The ME decade” for nothing. It was an era of quickly advancing technology mixed with a faltering economy that saw only one way to fix itself: Ignore sadness and seek out pleasure.
For those of you not born in the 70s who never properly lived in the 1980s, let me describe exactly what you missed. It was in this decade that the Jimmy Carter-esque malaise of the past was wiped away with patriotism and a lust for self-satisfaction. It was this decade in which the constant fear of nuclear war and instability in the third world was made light of in popular movies and television shows. It was the decade in which it became acceptable to enjoy yourself and your life without needing to apologize for using too much gasoline or not giving money to hungry Ethiopian kids. You could live in excess and it was completely acceptable. Heck, it was that love of excess in the 80s that made the economy so strong by the mid 90s, which was just in time for the Clinton administration to claim responsibility for it.
The 80s were, in fact, merely a side effect of the self-flagellatory period of the 1970s. Sure, the 70s had Disco, swingers, and Studio 54…but politically it was a completely different reality. People were taught to fear war, fight injustice, and rally for change as if it was eternally 1969. It was this idea that got an underdog peanut farmer from Georgia elected for president. So naturally, when a man came along in 1980 who told people they didn’t have to constantly feel sorry for themselves and may instead revel in the joyous excesses that America is more than happy to provide her people with, folks rallied behind him.
What this created was a decade where movies about muscular men blowing up communists and unedited late night softcore porn were the norm. Hostesses on TV shows would dress like hookers and flashed their cleavage every five minutes while sexual innuendo was layered on so thick you could scrape it up with a shovel and use it to patch potholes. Troma films with full-on sex were put on the USA network every weekend and the show’s bumpers in-between breaks had images of Gilbert Gottfried under his bed’s covers with crumpled up tissues. No one cared, and no one protested. It was a beautiful time to be alive.
So why do I bring all of this up? Well, here in the late days of 2015 as I write this editorial, we live in a time where the aforementioned attitudes and images are considered unhealthy and contribute to kids growing up to be violent, misogynistic rapists. We’re told by people who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars through their patreon accounts (or private donations) to make videos that have the same production values of a 5th grade AV club’s project to avoid anything remotely sexual for fear that it will make us devalue women and forget that they are human beings. It will, according to them, cause the viewer of such puerile trash to see women as objects and lead to domestic violence and sexual assault.
They had their say, now it’s time for mine. You know what my take on this whole subject is?
Not being subjected to *enough* sexual freedom and exploration in your formative years is what turns you into a deviant, not the other way around. Before I delve into this further, I’d like to tell you a bit about myself. Or, perhaps more appropriately, I should tell you about my stepfather.
Having entered our family when I was six years old, he came in at a time when both me and my mother needed a man in our lives. He was a tough looking Vietnam veteran who had an Atari 2600 and a love of hunting rifles. You can imagine which one of those three things meant the most to me, with him giving me his Atari 2600 machine that year and teaching me how to play Frogger. It was the beginning of my geekhood, and also the start of me falling in love with the man who I never once called a “step” dad.
Unlike a lot of people now, my dad was a believer in the sanctity and purity of the body. Make jokes if you want, but he didn’t hesitate giving me “the talk” at a very early age. He would always get angry when people preached about the “Evils” of nudity or the depravity of sex. I cannot tell you how many times he said, quote, “The world would be better if nobody wore clothes.” Feel free to crack jokes about it, so long as you stop to think about it and realize how close to the truth that statement is.
Not only that, but he regularly rented extremely “risque” movies for us at the video store that nowadays would be locked behind an age gate. My mother, who was considerably more prudish, wouldn’t watch them, but me and my father would frequently rent Troma flicks and even had a series of in-jokes based upon them that we still bring up to this day. Such as my dad seeing old women in the street as we drive by and him remarking that “Old ladies are worth 3 points”, referencing a scene in the first Toxic Avenger film where a group of kids would run over pedestrians and kill them to gain points in a sick game.
Yes, he’s weird. Now you know where I get it from.
So what am I getting at with this? My father never tried to guard me from sex or nudity. I was only nine years old when I saw the scene in Toxic Avenger where a woman is riding a guy cowgirl style on a gym bench with her giant breasts flopping up and down. Nine years old. Such a tender age…and yet, well, what bad came of it? Anything? Only that my wife hates it because I prefer her being on top.
It’s not just that either. Like every other boy (and a good amount of girls I imagine), I got into my dad’s dirty magazines and sneaked a peak or three into them while no one was home. Of course, he never knew that. Or, perhaps he did and figured it wasn’t that big of a deal. I suppose I’ll never know.
Sure, we cracked jokes about a lot of the nude scenes in the cheesy B-movies we rented and my mom thought it was embarrassing that we watched them, but we didn’t care. We knew better. To us, it was natural. My father taught me to not just appreciate women, but to enjoy the gifts god gave us. One of those gifts being the beauty of the female form.
Now, according to Jon McIntosh, Anita Sarkeesian, Randi Harper, Brianna Wu and all of their ilk, I should be the world’s most prolific rapist and a misogynist showing an unparalleled level of hatred towards women. I should be the new Ted Bundy, abusing college coeds and leaving them to rot in the trunk of my car as I troll Craigslist for new victims. To hear them talk, I shouldn’t have even made it to 40 years old because I am unable to adjust to civilized society as I am no doubt a hopelessly broken human being that is prone to violence and is fond of sexually assaulting every woman I see.
Feel free to ask my wife, mother, female co-workers and female friends about that and you’ll see that couldn’t possibly be any farther from the truth. In actuality, until the ne’er-do-wells redefined the word into something twisted, I actually called myself a feminist. I loved TV shows that had strong women in them (Buffy, the 1980s Wonder Woman, Xena) and can proudly attest to never having downloaded any nude mods for Tomb Raider because Lara Croft means too much to me. Yes, seriously.
However, you wouldn’t think so if you listen to so-called “Anti-GamerGate” and its woefully under-educated “leaders.”
Now I know what my detractors are saying right now. “That’s you Carl, you aren’t the only person in the world…most people are harmed by early exposure to sex and sexuality…it causes deviancy and teaches young boys how to objectify women.” Fair enough, I understand that I am, after all, just one example in a world of billions…so how about I show you an example where avoiding sex and sexuality has damaged someone? What if I could prove to you that cloistering someone away from the supposed horrors of bikinis and boob-jiggling (Or speedos and banana dangling) have ruined a person?
One such example that comes to mind are two sisters who used to be my neighbors when I was young. From age 4 to 8, we played together just as normal kids always do. These two girls, along with all the other kids in the neighborhood, would come out every morning and afternoon to join the street kids in games of kickball and tag. Simple, fun, and harmless activities that had no serious risks other than someone scraping a knee or banging their head.
Unfortunately, by the age of 9, the neighbors would no longer let their two girls out to play. Me and the other kids on the block were mystified as to why. All we saw of them were their crying faces pressed against the living room windows as they watched us play kickball without them.
About 20 years later, I met one of the two sisters in a local department store. Though we didn’t say much, I was still intrigued enough to continue thinking about it several weeks later. Seeking answers, I brought the subject up with my mother, who was the biggest busy body in the entire town. Apparently, the neighbors – who were devout Catholics – didn’t want their daughters playing with men for fear they would feel attraction towards someone and (get ready for this one) have sex with them.
The really sad part? Between the two of them, they have five out-of-wedlock children and one of them is now living on the streets. Meanwhile, perverted little me didn’t even begin dating until a year after high school and had enough common sense to know how to use prophylactics once I did. Though it was sad hearing about the two neighbor girls I fondly remembered playing with, it’s a perfect example of what happens when sanctimonious puritans force their unrealistic standards and disciplines on children who desperately need to be educated and exposed to the mysteries of sex before they try to find out on their own.
So what does this have to do with games? Good question. The truth is, nothing. Unfortunately, certain individuals have seen to it that gaming is forever linked to the aforementioned brand of puritanism.
The example I gave of the two devout religious sisters is very similar to what you’re seeing now in the gaming community. You have hipsters, who ironically are by-and-large atheists, telling people that sexual exposure is wrong and that sexuality is the biggest corrupter of young minds since the devil invented Dungeons & Dragons. To them, a video game with bikini-clad women in it is as dangerous as a loaded gun.
This acts as a nice segue into a theory the great singer Ted Nugent once shared with the world. Ted “Cat Scratch Fever” Nugent is a very big proponent of the second amendment and believes in teaching kids how to use and respect firearms at a very young age. His theory, which I believe he has proven to be correct, is that if you expose children to firearms at a young age and teach them how to properly use them, the world would be a considerably safer place.
Ted’s idea is that giving children access to guns at an early age effectively “de-mystifies” them, and prevents them from becoming obsessed with them later in life when curiosity will, undoubtedly, drive them to it.
Admittedly, it does make sense. When kids are denied something, when they are told something is off-limits and forbidden, do they obey their peers and stay away from the unauthorized item? No, they seek it out and experiment with it. This is doubly worse when they tinker with something they were never exposed to or taught to fear.
You know, like sex.
There’s an argument I’m sure some will make that says I’m grasping at straws and that all I’m proving is that sexual content is fine so long as a parent is there to explain it. They would say to me, “Well, if the parent isn’t there, then they’ll be just as corrupted as anyone else.”
My point is that whether you have a guide to explain it to you or not, sex and sexuality are crucial aspects of humanity and when ignored, their avoidance causes social problems. To deny ourselves that most important part of our being, that most beautiful part of life, is to basically sentence someone to prison. Sex is why we are all here, and it’s why we all continue to exist. Sex is why we work, why we fight, and why we struggle through each of our days. Whether it’s for a real-life woman or a 2D illustration in an anime, love and sex keeps you wanting to live life…so how is that a bad thing? Why is it horrible for someone to want to seek it out and enjoy exposure to gorgeous images of the opposite sex? Even if they are, as I was, only a kid?
Ok, fine, I’m a deviant for allowing kids to be curious…But what about the person who is already a young adult? Why can’t they partake in sexual content if they are already both accustomed to it and appreciative of it? What’s wrong with the 20-whatever year old guy playing Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 who is getting aroused by Hitomi in a string bikini? What’s wrong if he, or *she*, begins pleasuring themselves to such an image? What damage does it do? How is it any worse than using your imagination to beat off? How is it more offensive to you than the same person pleasuring themselves to a 2D image of a porn star? Are you living in some strange alternate universe where there exists a single person who, by the age of 16, hasn’t masturbated yet? Maybe you should talk to Joycelyn Elders.
The problem here is that the new puritans are those on the far left. When I was a kid, it was far right simpletons like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell who were whining that we were all too comfortable with nudity and sex. Now, thirty years later, it’s the far left that is promoting puritanism. This “Sex negative” culture is damaging to society in the way that it promotes the idea that sex is evil and something to be feared. It will, in time, begin contributing to the younger generation’s fear of sex and will create a situation where children will grow up with unhealthy attitudes about sex and sexuality. Like the two sisters I mentioned before, they will be woefully ill-equipped to deal with the responsibility of working genitals once they discover what they can do.
“But Carl”, they say, “Can’t you people go find porn online? Why do you need a bad volleyball game to crank one out?”
Partly due to the fact that we aren’t defending Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 because we need it for spank material, though mostly because we are sick of seeing people attack a game simply because its images are considered “too risque” for the public or that it “embarrasses” the hobby. Who made you the gatekeeper of what is right and what is wrong for the six billion people who live on Earth? Also, if we all cave in and agree that this one game should be tossed due to breast jiggling, then where do we begin drawing the line? Do we eventually create a video game equivalent to the 1950’s “Comics Code” where a stamp of moral quality is placed on something to guarantee that it doesn’t offend anyone?
They cry that video gaming needs to “grow up”, yet they themselves are claiming to being triggered by digital breasts. To be honest, I fail to see any fun in a gaming industry that is nothing but morally upright social justice stories of lesbians beating oppression or black folk having brave adventures with their recently awarded reparations money. If I want to be educated about social problems and learn about real-world issues I can turn on any of the 500 news channels I get and listen to them drone on and one about it 24-7. I play games to escape the real world, not be drawn back into it. The only people who play it for educational reasons are either non-gamers or toddlers.
For me, the whole idea of #GamerGate has never been about ethics. I care about it, but it’s not very high on my list of things I feel are threatening the continued stability of the human race. For me, it’s about fighting “sex negative” culture and letting folks know it’s okay to be aroused and have a fulfilling fantasy life. It’s about letting people know you can get a boner from the sorceress in Dragon’s Crown and there’s nothing wrong with it. You’re human. You’re normal. You’re breathing.
I do pity the folks we fight, however. To know they are sitting there playing with themselves and pretending they don’t by decrying sex and sexuality at every opportunity makes me feel sorry for them. They deny themselves one of the greatest thrills we are given as members of the human race. Whether it’s with another person or with yourself, orgasms are beautiful things. The human body is a beautiful thing too. Celebrating it, admiring it, and being aroused by it is as normal as drinking water or breathing air. It’s what keeps us alive and prospering. It’s what keeps us happy.
The truth is, every single person who reads this editorial has, at one time or another, pleasured themselves behind the computer they are typing at right now. Even those who will ridicule me, and *especially* those who identify as sex-negative SJWs. The only difference between them and a normal person is they don’t have the courage to admit they are doing it.
Sexual content doesn’t make you a rapist, just as violent content doesn’t make you a murderer. In fact, much like violent content can be a way to release tension, sexual content can be a method in which people live out a fantasy they otherwise wouldn’t want to in real life. It’s called escapism, and more people need to understand that the only thing keeping society held together is that we can act on some of our lesser wanted impulses by way of games and imagination.
Because…newsflash folks: We all have those same impulses. The ones who deny it and try to force a puritanical lifestyle on others are the ones you should REALLY be worried about.
My message to those people is summed up best by the great gay icon George Michael who once said, and I quote:
“Sex is natural, sex is good, not everybody does it, but everybody should.”