In the "Grand Theft Auto" series, one of the world’s top-selling video game franchises, players can have sex with women and then kill them....What researchers seem to be ignoring in this study is that there is a very strong Western taboo against violence targeting women. We have special laws to protect women against violence even though almost all violent crime is against men. We treat the relatively rare instances in which women are victims as especially bad, from a moral and legal perspective.
[A] team of social scientists asked a group of Italian high school students to play one of three kinds of games: one that rewarded violence against women ("Grand Theft Auto"), one that promoted violence without degrading women (a portion of the "Half Life" series) or one that featured good, clean fun (a pinball or puzzle sequence).
After participants played their game for about 25 minutes, they answered questions about how they felt about on-screen characters. Did they identify with the mobster in "Grand Theft Auto?" Did they connect with the alien-battling scientist in "Half Life?"
The researchers then showed each student a photo of a bruised girl who, they said, had been beaten by a boy. They asked: On a scale of one to seven, how much sympathy do you have for her?
The male students who had just played "Grand Theft Auto" — and also related to the protagonist — felt least bad for her, the study found, with an empathy mean score of 3. Those who had played the other games, however, exhibited more compassion. And female students who played the same rounds of Grand Theft Auto had a mean empathy score of 5.3.
Ask the question another way: how much violence in video games do you suppose is targeted against men? My guess is that the answer is "far and away most of it," which the #2 position being held not by women but by monsters -- aliens and zombies and whatnot.
If you work against that taboo by encouraging young men to think of women as legitimate targets for violence, you can expect that some of the protection that women enjoy from violence is going to wane. Presumably these social scientists want you to know that video games like GTA are very bad because they allow young men to treat objects represented as women as legitimate targets for violence.
The dark irony is that these same people are, of course, the ones pushing for women in the infantry.
They're the ones who want co-ed boot camp, where young Marines and Soldiers will train in conducting physical violence not against virtual images of women but actual young women.
They're the ones who want to break sex down into "gender," and then tell you it's not real but just some sort of social construct. We should treat men and women exactly the same, unless it's a man who wants to be treated like a woman, in which case we should make special efforts to make sure he feels we receive him as feminine.
But yeah, tell me again how horrible the video games are. Tell me how sexist it is that they expose virtual women to violence, just like they do virtual men.
I'd be only too happy to endorse a taboo that protects virtual women from being depicted as objects for violence. I'd just like to see the same courtesy extended to actual women.