Gendered Violence the Intersection Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1733 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

Gendered Violence

The intersection of gender and violence in popular media like Sin City or the Tekken series presents an interesting problem for gender studies, because while both texts give their female characters agency and authority rivaling their male counterparts, the representation of those female characters still falls within a very limited range of clothing and career options. Furthermore, the more immediate level of involvement required for a videogame as opposed to a film forces the audience to take part in the violence that these female characters commit and experience. By adopting a critical perspective rooted in recent studies of media violence, the representation of women as victims, and the gendered space of videogames, one is able to see how the gendered violence in Sin City and Tekken differs dramatically in the meaning it creates. Specifically, while Sin City ultimately reinforces the idea of a world where women are primarily targets of violence due to their gender, Tekken presents a world where the violence committed by and against female characters has nothing to do with their gender, but rather with the player's involvement in the game.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Research Paper on Gendered Violence the Intersection of Gender and Assignment

Prior to addressing the methodological basis of this critique, it is helpful to outline the areas where Sin City and Tekken intersect, because noting these initial similarities will help make their meaningful differences clearer. In both Sin City and the world of Tekken, women are, almost by definition, scantily clad. In Sin City this is a product of their professions, as literally all of the women in the film are either prostitutes, strippers, or in one case, a waitress. The female characters in Tekken hold a much wider variety of day jobs ranging from high school student to international assassin, although in the end they all do the same thing since Tekken is first and foremost a fighting game. Despite this wider range of roles, the female characters in Tekken are just as sexualized as those in Sin City, with the added dimension of having been designed and animated such that their bodies represent ridiculous idealizations of the female form; that the dimensions and clothing given to many of these female characters would making fighting in a martial arts tournament somewhat difficult is not considered. Pointing out this similarity is a way of recognizing a problematic representation of gender in both texts in order to demonstrate how one text (Tekken) nevertheless provides the space for a more expansive representation of gender as it relates to violence.

Even though Sin City and Tekken use a similar, absurdly-reductive visual representation of gender to present their female characters to the audience, when these female characters engage in violence the difference is dramatic. However, before exploring these differences, it is necessary to provide a more robust critical basis for this analysis. To begin one may address the concept of woman-as-victim that exists in both media and real life, because this concept is so ingrained in contemporary society that even those attempting to further the cause of women have sometimes unintentionally perpetuated it. This issue is the focus of Nina Reich's 2002 study of how the idea of victims and victimization plays out in discussions of women and violence.

Reich does not fall "into the same trap many that many scholars do of advocating either for or against labeling women who have experienced violence as victims," but rather is interested in providing a vocabulary for understanding women who have experienced violence that "transcend[s] the false dichotomy that often labels women as either victims or survivors, and as either empowered agents or passive objects" (Reich, 2002, p.293). While Reich does not provide any new terms adopted by this study, she does offer a useful way of looking at female agency as it relates to media violence, because too often discussions of gendered violence in the media can be rooted in the same binary thinking Reich attempts to do away with. This is especially relevant for an analysis of Sin City and Tekken, because in both cases no one could easily label the female characters as either victims or aggressors. Instead, women in both texts are subjected to and subject others to violence, and the meaningful difference between either text's representation of gendered violence is the degree to which gender is responsible for or defines that violence.

Despite the news media uproar that comes whenever videogames are mentioned in the same sentence as a school shooting, there is fairly little debate regarding the existence of a link between media violence and individual beliefs and behavior. While so far it has been impossible to say whether or not media violence actually increases violent behavior in a causal fashion, decades of research have demonstrated that there does at least exist a correlation between aggression and media violence (Funk et. al., 2004, p. 23-24). Furthermore, a recent study of fourth and fifth graders indicated that the connection between videogame violence and audience response is slightly different than other forms of media, "because video game players actually participate in, and to some extent create video game actions, rather than simply being a content recipient" (Funk et. al., 2004, p. 24). To understand why this observation is especially important for a consideration of the gendered violence in Sin City and Tekken, it is necessary to point out how videogames themselves function as a kind of gendered space.

The stereotype that videogame players are overwhelmingly single, white (possibly unemployed) men is not born out by statistical data, but there is ample evidence to suggest that videogames by and large remain designed and marketed with male gamers in mind (Bryce and Rutter, 2003, p. 6-7). This is based off a simple content analysis of the videogame market, which has since its inception favored male lead characters and scantily-clad female characters (even those given top billing). This does not mean that the representation of male characters is somehow better or more realistic, but simply that videogame characters have for the most part followed an idealization of gendered bodies that values strength and musculature for men and tiny waists and large breasts for women. However, as Bryce and Rutter point out in their study of gender dynamics in gaming, this demonstrably sexist content does not mean that women cannot "construct alternative meanings of the themes and content of computer games, identify with masculine characters, or construct their own oppositional or self-contradictory reading of texts" (Bryce and Rutter, 2003, p. 7). On the contrary, precisely because videogames incorporate the audience into the action of the text, they offer players (including female players) the opportunity to constantly redefine the meaning of the central character.

This is why the gendered violence in Sin City and Tekken differs meaningfully even if the visual representations of gender in either text are extremely similar. In Sin City, women are both victims and aggressors, although based on a simple quantitative look at the film's narrative they are presented as victims more frequently. The film is broken up into three chapters with a prologue and epilogue; the prologue and epilogue both feature a woman being killed by a male assassin, while two stories focus on the victimization of women by both a serial killer and a serial rapist. The third story features a male protagonist, but revolves around a group of female prostitutes who are as capable of stylish, over-the-top violence as any of the male characters. However, it is not the simple number of times that women are subjected to violence that matters, but rather the way this violence is gendered and rendered.

In the film, violence against women is committed almost exclusively because they are women. The serial killer only hunts female prostitutes, while the serial rapist attacks young girls. Even the group of prostitutes, who are able to defend their turf against violent policemen and a rival mob, are targeted precisely because they are female sex-workers who refuse to be run by a male leadership structure. This presents a genuine problem because in the world of the film, women's bodies are presented as objects uniquely specialized for the reception of violence in a way that is entirely disproportionate to the film's treatment of men's bodies.

In contrast, even though Tekken features scantily-clad and absurdly proportioned women, those women are not the special targets of violence, but rather engage in violence and are targeted by violence in the same degree as the men. In Tekken, the player is able to choose which character she or he would like to be, and then proceeds to fight a series of male and female opponents. Even though the videogame has the potential for quantitatively more representations of extreme violence against women than Sin City, this violence is not nearly as problematic in terms of gender representation precisely because it is not really gendered violence. That is to say, the violence in Tekken is violence committed by extremely gendered characters, but it is not violence committed because of gender; instead, the violence is committed as part of the game's central… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Gendered Violence the Intersection" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Gendered Violence the Intersection.  (2013, April 23).  Retrieved May 30, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Gendered Violence the Intersection."  23 April 2013.  Web.  30 May 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Gendered Violence the Intersection."  April 23, 2013.  Accessed May 30, 2020.