She doesn’t look like she gives a shit whether you find her empowering does she?

Image Source: Manufactured Cosplay

 

Author’s Note: Part of this rant was written while I am fighting a really bad cold that has made me sleep deprived and taking an over-the-counter drug that has some funky side effects, so if some of these thoughts seems half processed, also strangely had butts on a lot on my mind, so you’ll know that I didn’t exactly write it with 100% clear mind. Oh and

NO SPOILERS

I haven’t finished the first Bayonetta or seeing anyone complete the second so plot details won’t be discussed. This will be based on the general principal of the character.

For many reasons, I should hate a character like Bayonetta. She most certainly isn’t a character that can be easily accepted, a leggy witch who loves to sway her hips in an exaggerated fashion, does sexually suggestive poses at the drop of a hat, because her outfit and part of her weapons is hair her special moves involve a degree of undress, ultimately culminating in her practically being naked to finish off an enemy. The games also cater very much to the male gaze in which the game seems makes sure you get very intimate with Bayonetta. Adding to the sexual stuff is moves being described as “Climaxes” and the fact you can even have a one-handed option to play the game.

But beneath her curvy exterior, there might actually be something a bit… empowering about Bayonetta? I mean think about it, she may use sex as a weapon but she is never submissive. She may gyrate, seduce and flirt just about every other moment in the game, but never comes at the expense of dehumanizing her. Being sexy is pretty much built into the character is made, would be a hell of a lot different had she been set-up as trying to take seriously like say the women of Dead or Alive which seems to be only putting up its main cast as well-endowed models yet wants you to take it’s convoluted plot seriously.

Then there is who made Bayonetta, and it may falls into place why the characters exist the way they do. The main brain was Hideki Kamiya is the guy who helped us bring the masculine equivalent of Bayonetta to the gaming industry in 2001, Dante from Devil May Cry. He also helped bring Clover studios together and helped find Platinum Games both companies loving to dip into the excess of style whether it’d be Viewtiful Joe or The Wonderful 101. It doesn’t feel unusual why the game is over-the-top in terms of its sexiness when you put those together.

Then there is the character designer herself… that’s right herself, Mari Shimazaki. I just feel like if you are to tackle the arguments of Bayonetta’s design you shouldn’t throw Ms. Shimazaki so casually to the side, she may not be responsible for the final result of the game but she certainly has a big hand in some of Bayonetta’s more controversial design choices. The fact that Bayonetta seems to be mainly comprised of limbs, giving her a freakishly tall appearance, a butt that won’t quit and a bodysuit made entirely of hair can be attributed to her thinking what an inherently sexual female character can be. And apparently she enjoyed doing it, so this is a case of not only men having a somewhat off-beat idea of what female empowerment through sexuality can be.

And what is there to say about empowerment through sexuality? Part of the reason why some women take up specific careers like being a stripper, sex worker, practicing BDSM for a living or even something as not quite as intimate like being a professional model or part of a burlesque routine, the idea of using sex as a ways of feeling powerful, that putting out for someone can be a rewarding experience. Some women like this feeling in control of their bodies as opposed to being forced to perform such duties, when they grind on someone’s lap it’s normally on their terms.

Of course not everyone will see it that way, really there is no denying there is a point in which sexy can become a problem. There is a key difference from when a character like Bayonetta pops up in video games in comparison to say Nicki Minaj releasing her single “Anaconda.” It was Ms. Minaj’s choice to write a song which is seen as flipping the idea of “Baby Got Back” in which big butts can taken as a symbol of feminine pride as opposed to male lust. Mari Shimazaki is only one part of a team of many men in which their gaze seem to be serviced more than hers, as Bayonetta is shot provocatively and even shamelessly poses for the player at times. Alternatively it can be seen as her just wanting to spread the sexual energy not just for herself but for the audience as well (And whose to say lesbians can’t enjoy it), but it still remains a valid thought that Bayonetta’s sexual freedom isn’t one that will be everyone’s cup of tea.

I can take the fact that people won’t universally see Bayonetta as a symbol of female empowerment, and I won’t argue against their views as video games are hardly the progressive side when it comes to positive representation. Where I will draw the line however is shaming those that do embrace Bayonetta for all that she is, that a woman enjoying the game shouldn’t be considered lesser of a feminist to see the character as empowering. People who declare themselves feminists yet spout a high degree of sex negativity is one thing I cannot support, not everything that has to do with sex is bad. One woman’s dismay may be another’s pleasure, and I think it’s perfectly alright for feminism to embrace both, just as long as they don’t start acting awful towards each other.

Well that was more than I thought I would write on the subject, and hey this is the week to really write about it as Bayonetta 2 releases on the Wii U this Friday and the anime Bloody Fate releases tomorrow on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digitial. I will tell you this definitely of Bayonetta, for all the stylish excess the game divulges in, it’s still plenty of fun and makes me wish there is a lot more character action games out there than there are currently. I’d love for old-school Dante to return.

End of Rant

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.