Tomb Raider and the Quest for Gender Equality

SquareEnix is having a sale on Tomb Raider. I agreed with myself that at $30 I would buy the game, and guess what? $30.

A brief history on Tomb Raider. When I was a child, you bought the polygon game to stare at her ridiculously huge boobs and tight daisy dukes. That’s what she was reduced to. Anything about equality was thrown out the window.

As time went, it really only got marginally better. It was still a T&A game.

When the newest came out, a revisiting of the series where they completely altered the perception of Lara Croft, the world cried fowl. “This is torture porn,” they cried, toting a few clips of her getting the crap kicked out of her. “This is about men being protective because she’s nearly raped,” they shouted, giving visual of basically the five second period where this was implied. And let’s be honest, wouldn’t we be more surprised if the stranded pirate, who hadn’t seen anything but sausage in thirty years, didn’t try something on a young college girl?

So firing it up, I braced myself for the horrid misogyny that I was about to witness. For about thirty seconds I think, “She’s cute.” Sitting there, listening to her iPod, wearing a tank top and cargo pants, her build slim and her chest at least three cups smaller than previous renditions. While previous Croft renditions you’d more likely see in a strip club, you could actually see this Lara Croft wandering the archives of Oxford, eating a burger with friends while discussing the lost civilizations of old. She looked real.

After this brief, “She’s cute” moment, I was introduced to a line of events which made me curl up into a ball and cringe. We hit the hull of a ship, get hit over the head with a club, get strung up like a fly in a spider’s nest, fall onto the largest splinter you’ve ever seen, got shot by an arrow, get beat up some more, fall through a large tunnel and slam into rocks (that was my fault), and top it all off with stepping into a bear trap and then getting attacked by wolves. And these are just a few of the incidents.

I was not once aroused. After seeing her lounging about, listening to music peacefully, she may as well been Nathan Drake. I was fighting for my life, and survival was all that mattered. That’s when it struck me.

Nathan Drake, Indiana Jones, and a dozen other male protagonists have all gone through this same treatment. They’ve all basically stumbled from one physical abuse to the next, gripping their side in pain, vision blurred, crying out for someone to help them. Except Indiana Jones. He would never stoop to such a level. But Drake? Drake’s a survivor and has minimal pride. He’s cried out for Sully more than once.

The people crying fowl saw it as torture porn. Think on that. They are champions of equality, but they construe a situation in which a female is treated just like dozens of male action protagonists, and now it’s torture porn. It makes me wonder if these equality fighters were equally turned on by Drake.

I’ve been loving the game and can’t wait to finish. It’s incredible, fast paced, and definitely an amazing reboot of the series, where Lara seems real and you actually feel for her instead of hoping to feel her. Future installments will have me coming back because she’s an amazing character, not just a well built body.

14 Comments on “Tomb Raider and the Quest for Gender Equality

  1. I don’t think you can have any female action figure without someone somewhere saying it’s porn in some way.
    In some cases it obviously is, but for the most part I try to ignore arguments like that, it’s just people getting uptight because they worry too much about what others might think of them.

  2. I was happy with the change, as we want all main characters taken seriously, and not just treated as eye candy. But I am biased, as I seem to enjoy writing female main characters more than the guys, peculiar as that is =P

    • You played?! Awesome. Yes, I was very excited about the change. Despite my appreciation for eye candy, I didn’t play more than about an hour of the first game, and the reboot is absolutely gripping.

      Also, do enjoy writing female characters. A lot of fun.

      • Wish I played. Nintendo fanboy here =)

        I liked the character shift, as the T&A of Version 1 Lara was solely to corner the horny male category (Girl Gamers were rare back then, of course).

        You want your main female to be more than mammaries and glutes, and everything I have seen and read of the reboot say it addressed that issue, and did so very well.

        Biggest challenge? Males writing interesting female characters. Really gotta think about how to do it right =)

      • Hormonal, sporadic, emotional, and always angry because the man can’t read her mind but secretly, what men aren’t aware of, is women do have the ability to read minds. Right? I mean, how could that story go wrong? 😛

      • Haha, omniscients in our midsts and we are too shallow to realise! =P

  3. Gotta wonder if the people crying ‘torture porn’ would be helping the torturers or trying to protect her. Unless of course it’s the feminists who are the ones complaining – which makes more sense. They’re always looking for something to whine about… and for them there’s no such thing as equality anyway.
    Interesting (looking at the previous comments) that you enjoy writing female characters – I enjoy writing male ones more. Maybe it’s because we find the opposite sex more interesting…?

    • It’s the feminists. Or the same people who complained in Mass Effect because originally you could only have a lesbian relationship with an alien. Racists.

      As for the women, I just really like boobs 😉 I also find men a little more mundane, less mutlifaceted. It likely stems from opposite sex is just more fascinating because I already have a decent understanding of men. Along with I really like the warrior woman.

  4. Insightful post, Paul. I remember one of the earlier Laura Croft video game iterations, just as you describe. There was a T-Rex in an underground cavern, as I recall.

    I argue that feminist’s have a gender narcissism pathology that results in their having a pathological need for women being victims of men and society to always be “true.” They will twist anything so that this can only ever be perceived as such.

    If there were no female video games heroines such as Croft, feminists would decry the patriarchal discrimination of women in video games and their being assigned to demeaning traditional gender roles. When there is a heroine such as Croft, it then is portrayed as torture porn by feminists.

    Always men the villains, always women the victims.

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