Originally Posted by Ayvah
There have been a few topics that have tackled issues of gender and sexism as presented in D:OS2. As some of those threads have gotten out of control, I felt it was time to start fresh and try to cover the subject as comprehensively and maturely as I can.

Biological and cultural differences between men and women

There are clear biological differences in athletic aptitude between men and women, and that's why sports generally are uncontroversially segregated by gender. However, Lyrhe made some comments where he argued that there are fundamental biological differences in intellectual aptitude between men and women.

Addressing a comment by Skallewag, I made the case earlier that culture is much more significant than race when it comes to athletic aptitude.

First strawman

Originally Posted by Ayvah

That's why Americans are good at basketball, Australians are good at swimming & cricket (and summer sports, generally), Canadians are good at hockey, New Zealanders are good at rugby, Europeans are good at soccer, etc. I can't imagine anyone trying to argue that there are significant biological differences between these groups.

This paragraph literally follows the definition of racism.

Originally Posted by Ayvah

Likewise, all evidence points to differences in intellectual aptitude between men and women, but further analysis points to this being cultural, not biological. This has been demonstrated repeatedly in different contexts, as per the following references:
Think Again: Men and Women Share Cognitive Skills
Men Are Better At Maps Until Women Take This Course
Why you should send your daughter to an all-girls school
Girls and boys have different cognitive abilities

Those references are simply demonstrating a capability to do something which is not the same thing as aptitude. This is your second strawman.

Originally Posted by Ayvah

Text vs subtext

To be clear, it is not a problem if the world depicted in D:OS is sexist. First off, it's far less sexist than the real world anyway. In the real world there are few women taking on the roles of warriors, particularly in the medieval style of society that is depicted. The removal of this sexism makes the world less realistic, but I can accept it and I appreciate the freedom it provides.

On the other hand, there are media like Witcher 3, Game of Thrones & Dragon Age which also present sexist worlds with sexualised characters, and yet this does not bother me.

Art is more complex than just the world it presents. In art, it's important to remember that there are different layers of text:
  • -> text (in this case, the world that is depicted)
  • -> context (the cultural lense in which we view this world)
  • -> subtext (the attitudes presented by the manner in which this world is portrayed)

The subtext is the part that really raises eyebrows. To be clear, the subtext in D:OS is much less sinister than the subtext in highly sexist examples like Metal Gear Solid V or Grand Theft Auto. D:OS2 could be worse, but there's still room for improvement.

So far, the concerns I've had regarding the subtext regarding gender relate to:
  • -> Contrast between male and female poses during character creation
  • -> Sebille (female) as the only scantily clad playable character, and the first character you see during character creation

This is certainly not exhaustive. There are potentially other issues that will be more apparent through further exploration of the game and as more content is released.

Traditional gender roles and why it matters

There were some very problematic comments by Testad I'd like to highlight. He's right that he comes from a different culture that views gender differently from my cultural background. But we all need to analyse our cultural views on gender, and consider how individuals push their cultural attitudes (which Testad admitted to be unjustifiable) onto the broader society they inhabit.

Traditionally women are not idolised for their intelligence or their strength. It's not seen to be attractive for a woman to be strong or intelligent.

Traditionally - where? Weren't you just talking about culture-based views? Which culture traditionally does not idolise women for their intelligence or strength? Because there are some cultures which have/do!

Originally Posted by Ayvah

Under this dichotomy (and as confirmed by thebonesinger's comment) the men are attractive for taking poses that emphasise their strength or intelligence, but for women who want to take on a strong or intelligent pose, they also need to also sway their hips or otherwise emphasise their female sexuality in order to also be seen as attractive.

This is the reason women seem to be inherently less apt in masculine fields. There is clear research showing both men and women unintentionally rate equally qualified women as less competent than men in traditionally masculine fields. Media sends the message that strength and intelligence are masculine traits that are less important to women their femininity. This is the direct cause of experiences such as the one that Vometia expressed where colleagues questioned her aptitude in IT because of her gender. (This not only affects women, mind you. Men also face roadblocks if they want to take on feminine roles.)

Ok, first off - I don't think the majority of people would rate a woman less intelligent than a man just because the woman is female and the man is male. Even the most narrow-minded person would have a lot of other considerations than just that.

Second, males generally have a biological predisposition toward garnering more muscle mass and thus are traditionally seen as naturally stronger than females. This is not dealing with culture. This is simply a result of biology. And since this is the natural order of things, it is no surprise that the generalised view of males being more muscular or masculine than females is a societal norm in many cultures. This is certainly not wrong and no one should have a problem with this. Also, no one is saying that a female can't be stronger than a male.

Originally Posted by Ayvah

Regardless of our culture, I think we can agree that men and women should have the same freedom of choice and the same opportunity to succeed, but we all need to acknowledge that this is not the reality we live in. This is the reason I care about how women are represented in a game.

First... yes, I think that all reasonable people would agree that any person (regardless of gender) should have the same opportunities at success in life. Also, you're right that that is not the case everywhere. What you don't specifically say, here, though, is that the lack of opportunities is a result of gender, but you implying it through the context of your whole post. I think most people would agree with that. Maybe, in some countries this is true. I would say that in America this is not true. And believe me, gender is one of the least likely reasons someone will not be given the same opportunity as someone else to succeed in life. In fact, your birth place, family, race and even the economic state of your home country are all far more likely to affect your likelihood to succeed at life than is your personal gender.

My advise to 3rd-wave feminists and 3rd-wave feminist apologists is to turn your head 90 degrees. Take a good hard look at that chip on your shoulder. Remove it. And then admit to yourself that shit happens to everyone, everywhere. Get over it, and overcome it by ignoring anyone who judges you based solely on your gender, and prove them wrong rather than bitching about it everywhere 24/7.

Originally Posted by Ayvah

Gender imbalance among fans of D:OS

Ok, first off I just want to address this terminology quickly - "gender imbalance". This is a loaded phrase with a lot of negative connotations nowadays, and I ask, why? Why is it wrong for men and women to be different? Men and women are better at different things. They are not equal. Does that mean males are better than females? No. Does that mean females are better than males? No. It means we're DIFFERENT. a!=b. a!>b. b!=a. b!>a. I think a lot of feminist apologists nowadays, unconsciously adopt this outlook on life as being victims or not good enough - and I think this is where a lot of their animosity, misunderstandings and general disgruntledness comes from. Men and women are not equal. For one thing/person/idea to be equal to another, they have to be perfectly identical. There are no two people (regardless of gender) who are equal.

Originally Posted by Ayvah

Finally, there is this article from Swen lamenting that only 4% of the visitors to the Kickstarter were "female", and that only 9% of the followers of Facebook were "female". In the end, one conclusion Swen reached is that the Google analytics used for the Kickstarter were inaccurate. He accused the analytics of being sexist because when demographic data can't be obtained directly, Google will guess gender for purposes of Adwords. Because these are guesses, it's impossible to understand its accuracy.

However, when Google Analytics guesses, it does it in a sophisticated way -- that is, it won't assume you're a male just because you visit a website associated with a male interest. However, it will look at the known audience of that website and assume that you're male if you spend a lot of time on websites where most of the audience is known to be male. The results of these processes appear to be very accurate.

The fact is that all evidence points to the D:OS audience being overwhelmingly male. As a business, Larian needs to recognise that it's unlikely they're reaching the gender diverse audience they expect to be reaching. Given that Swen pointed out that PAX attendees are 35% female, this is clearly a problem that cannot simply be explained by blaming the overall demographics of hardcore gamers.

Even highly masculine games like Battlefield have a 22% female player demographic, so it's unlikely that less than 20% of the players of D:OS2 would be female, but there is something very problematic about having only 4% of visitors identifying as female. I'd be interested to know if there are any Google Analytics that have been done to see if this forum's demographics look any better.

If Larian wants to attract female gamers or address sexism, then they will need to do some navel gazing that doesn't simply rely on fielding opinions from their core fans. I'm not necessarily suggesting that the gender imbalance will be solved by reducing sexism in the game. As we are all living products of sexist culture, eliminating sexism in the game may actually be irrelevant to the goal of attracting women and Larian may be better off focusing on introducing explicitly "feminine" elements such as romance.

This is what is called the "false cause" argument. https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/false-cause
Audience is mostly male because females don't like this game because dos/larian is sexist! There is no evidence showing this is why the game does not have more female players. There is no evidence showing that this is the cause/case/reason.

And that's not all. You've actually had another "false cause" as well, in assuming that because the website's audience is mostly male that the game's audience must be mostly male as well. There is no evidence to show this.

Originally Posted by Ayvah

But it's important to recognise that there's a problem and I do not think it is unreasonable to hope that Larian could also try to aim to present any new or existing elements in a manner that does not invoke or reinforce regressive sexist attitudes.

I do not believe there is a problem with larian/dos/dos2, and you have failed to provide valid evidence to the contrary.