One of the first video games I played all the way through was Tomb Raider. I borrowed it off a friend and started to play it on my crappy computer that was not meant for gaming. But I loved it. I enjoyed navigating new worlds and fighting bad guys. Lara Croft may have been dressed ridiculously, but the game was a lot of fun for me. It started my 10 year love affair with games and my exploration of feminist media.
I heard that Square Enix, a company I loved for putting on the Final Fantasy series, was going to reboot Lara Croft. I was so excited. My game was going to get a face lift. This was so great.
My excitement lasted for all about 2 seconds. I watched the trailer and was pretty disturbed by what I saw. It depicted Lara, after being captured by a gang of mercenaries, having to fight one of the men off. Her hands were tied behind her back as he slid his hands all over her body. Was I going crazy, or were they putting an attempted rape scene in the game?
I got on the internet and found out that, no, I was not going crazy. There were tons of other people who were thinking the same thing. Square Enix has come out and said that this wasn’t their intention, rather a reflection of the first time Lara has to kill someone. Ok. But then why is the guy groping her hips and chest? If this is meant to be a pivotal moment in the game, why have anything like that in the game?
Then I started to get angry. I have a very big thing against rape being used as a “push.” That is, after a character (usually female) experiences some form of sexual assault, they become a “badass” who kills everyone to get her revenge. They don’t become badass on their own, rather need the traumatizing experience to drive them insane with the need to get their retribution.
Look, I get this is a huge trope. I read comic books. I play a lot of games. But why is it that male characters get the “good” kinds of trauma? Family dying, an injury, etc. A lot of people look at the man and nod, because that is acceptable. We understand his pain. He will go at any lengths to bring the villains to justice, so we applaud his choices. But sometimes, he is just badass on his own, with no background trauma driving him.
Why are women subjected to rape, assault or abuse to become badass? People roll their eyes because they view the woman as someone trying too hard. She should be crying, or hiding or whatever those silly trauma victims do. Let the men do the work, honey.
I have asked this in the past, but feel like it needs to be asked again: Why can’t women be on adventures or do cool things without a terrible back-story to make her more compelling?