863 notes - reblog
Any thoughts? OH HO HO, please have a seat because I’m about to go off right here,
Ok first of all, does Bayonetta (both the character and the game) have some problems, yes. Things can always be improved. The thing is, she doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be either A TOP TIER FEMINIST ICON or A PROBLEMATIC PIECE OF SHIT. A middle ground can be found in these things, and regarding Bayonetta, she is a very, very good and important female character with absolute feminist leanings, but there are some things that can be improved upon, always.
But here’s the thing, I’ve noticed that a lot of people who scream “ANTI-FEMINIST” at Bayonetta, either haven’t played the games or take everything at face value.
There are a lot of details in Bayonetta that set her apart from the typical, male-gazey female character. And those details are absolutely put there on purpose by the developers by the way, these are deliberate things.
First of all, something important to remember is that all the characters in Bayonetta, were designed by a woman. And if you look at the concept art of both Bayonetta and Jeanne
The most important thing in their designs isn’t their bust sizes, or sex appeal.
It’s their sense of style, and ‘shape’ (as in their silhouette, an important aspect of character design).
What’s also important is to note all the effort the designers have gone through to really establish the individuality of these two female characters. That might seem like a minor thing, but if you compare it to other video games in this genre (fighting, and hack-and-slash specifically), often the most important thing separating those female characters is their bust size. Case in point, Soul Calibur has a chest size chart in it’s concept art.
This is ridiculous.
Another very important thing regarding her design, are her proportions. YES, her legs are ridiculously long, but here’s the thing, that’s the style of the entire game. I mean, have you seen Luka’s legs,
damn he fine
No, what I’m talking about with her design, is the way she looks, the way she is proportionate to herself.
I’m taking Japanese focused games especially here. I took a character from Soul Calibur (I have a real bone to pick with this game ok), and Dead or Alive as examples.
Those two characters aren’t women, they’re girls. Little girls. And while both of them originally come from a fighting game, neither of them look even vaguely threatening.
Now look at Bayonetta. Her features are proportionate to her face, she is still very beautiful but she looks mature, which is GOOD because she is supposed to be in her 30’s (human age, of course. Technically she’s hundreds of years old) in the first game, and even nearing 40’s in the second.
Do you know how rare that is for female, Japanese characters.
These other two characters look sexual, yes. But not like they actually have any control over their own sexuality. Two tropes often used in the design of Japanese female characters is the “Ice Queen” and “the Little Girl”, (or as psychology calls it, the "Virgin/Whore complex"),
For examples, let’s use Soul Calibur again
Sophitia, despite having a mature body (or at least her bust size is, everything else seems strangely out of proportion), looks innocent, like she needs to be protected. While her basic design almost SCREAMS sex, everything else seems to project a need to be protected. She is non threatening.
Ivy on the other hand, also exudes sex but differently. She is sexual, but she also has an air of “you will never have this”. She is an “ice queen”, it’s not that she doesn’t want to have sex with YOU, cis male gamer, it’s that she doesn’t want to sleep with ANYONE. You masculinity remains intact.
But Bayonetta on the other hand. Bayonetta has sex. This is established several times through dialogue. She has sex, she wants it and enjoys it, BUT, she HIGHLY doubts that you, cis male gamer, can deliver.
She has sex, but she won’t with you because you’re not worth her time and she knows it. She owns her own sexuality.
She looks good and she knows it. She enjoys wearing perfume, jewelry and designer clothes because she likes wearing them. She does this for herself only, no one else.
Another thing about her design, are her lollipops. Lollipops in relation to female characters are a sexual symbol almost all of the time. It’s a call back to oral sex. That’s why the lollipop in question is often rather large, because MASCULINITY don’t you know.
But look at the lollipops Bayonetta eats. Those things are tiny as hell. And she’s never seen licking them either, she just put them in her mouth and almost forgets they’re there. She throws them around in combat too.
They are fun for her, and she enjoys them, but they are not vital at all. (psst, they are a metaphor for you, cis male gamer.)
Now, the way she moves in combat. First of all, again, Bayonetta LOVES herself, and she enjoys showing off what she can do, and why shouldn’t she.
Many people say she moves like a stripper, but that’s not exactly true. She moves like a dancer.
Right, that’s all her basic design out of the way. Now there’s also her personality to consider.
There are some very important facts about Bayonetta’s personality that really set here even further apart from the regular female character tropes.
First of all, her likes and interests (besides sex and dancing that is). Things Bayonetta likes,
- Space Harrier
- Aracade games
- Tiny, pink drinks
- Blowing kisses that take the shape of little hearts
- Her mother
- Her best friend Jeanne
She both likes very stereotypically masculine and feminine things, scoffing at nothing, and judging nothing.
You will never ever hear her say anything like “I’m not like other girls”, quite the opposite, she is shown several times to be very protective of other girls, while handeling most of the men in her life (Luka, at first, Enzo, Balder, even Rodin) with disregard.
Another VERY important thing about her, is her relationship with Cereza. Whether she is really her daughter (she technically isn’t), is not important. What IS important, is that Bayonetta takes on a motherly role. She gets called “mummy”, she cares for and protects Cereza, the whole bit.
And it doesn’t diminish her badassness or sexuality at all. Because often, female characters becoming mothers is presented as a “downgrade”, it makes them less sexual, but not Bayonetta. She is shown to be both very caring and loving, and also cold and calculated. My god, it’s almost as if she’s a multi dimensional character.
Now, I think I hit all the bullet points of her design. So I just wanted to point out a few more little things about the Bayonetta universe.
The item and weapon descriptions, are always about very powerful witches from different countries and periods in time. So in this universe, witches come from all over the world and wield extreme power.
And last but not least, in the Bayonetta universe. Both heaven and the underworld are ruled by women.
that’s always fun
So, in conclusion,
Is Bayonetta a feminist game? I believe so, yes! There is a lot to admire, and I don’t call her my “video game crush” for nothing.
Should all games strive to be exactly like this? OH HELL NO! Bayonetta’s sex positivity is really great and all, but now where are our asexual heroines, our canon trans ones, etc.
Bayonetta is not perfect, but it did have a goal, and I believe it reaches that goal almost perfectly. Bayonetta is very important, and she is absolutely worthy of close examination, and I love her to bits.
so, I hope I answered your question!
now go forth and play more Bayonetta! Let’s rock, baby!