Sexism in Hitman Games (female targets)

I agree, I didn’t play AB yet but I did see the video of 47 killing Diana and it seemed somewhat sexist - However why isn’t it sexist to murder Fuchs in the shower (and he is wearing just a thong)? - As for the previous 2 female targets in the game (the Doctor from H2 and Angelina) I don’t think they were portrayed in a sexist manner. If anything, I think the sexist way of showing women in the series is there to appeal to a male audience (the majority of fans) - Despite not all fans being male - My sister likes playing Hitman and she doesn’t think the series is sexist in any way…

I think the Hitman series has a variation when it comes to villains, and they weren’t all Russian/Iraninan - In Blood Money most targets were actually American. In Hitman 2 you had missions in Japan, and as far as I know the Japanese are allied with the americans - Aka Western friendship.

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Besides the Saints in Absolution, Hitman is the least sexist franchise on the earth!

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Okay now we’re in a new topic as promised.

Probably because Fuchs isn’t fabricated to be a pornified ideal of the male body designed to titilate those who are into that sort of thing - where Diana’s body was. Observe:

This is before we factor in aspects like that Fuchs being in the shower is only an aspect you come across while on the hit, and shows you coming across him by surprise. Diana’s shower scenes were used in promotion, are in the menu of the game - and it turns out she’s not that surprised by you.

Angelina Mason is an assassin who’s best plan to murder a senator at Mardi Gras is to climb up on his float and stab him in the neck - she carries a silenced pistol and is by far the weakest enemy on the map. Her boyfriend has a real plan (sniping), more powerful gun and isn’t prone to standing under pianos. Angelina’s main purpose is to add an extra easy target and provide radio sex chatter so you can locate targets via walkie talkie.

Dr Hannelore is the “odd one out” in 47s hit list in Silent Assassin. He kills KGB Generals, spies, world class hacker, a yakuza boss, agent 17, an uber crimelord and a mean doctor lady who steals candy from her patients and is assassinated for no clear reason. Seriously you are going to kill the guy anyway, you can’t really disguise yourself as her per se.

Then there’s Eve from Dance with the Devil:

Again without highlighting at the party that pretty much every female character at the party is dressed like that while the male guests are dressed in suits. Or that both Eve and the unnamed female assassin in Better Watch Out both rely on the concept of using the promise of sexual services in order to lure 47 in for the kill (Eve’s male equivalent just challenges you to a duel and wears a suit).

Then, going back to Absolution (which has by far the most female targets in the series) there’s Layla Stockton :

The achievement for killing Layla Stockton is Destroying Something Beautiful - which highlights how despite her getting screen time she really had no other character traits they could assign her.

Then, you don’t need to know much about Absolution to know about this one, The Saints:

Yeah. Also, in game - these ladies are not particularly formidable or challenging - they’re just basically generic troops with sexy fetish nun models and names assigned. Some of the “accident” kills for them are baffling given that at the time they’re supposed to be hunting you.

Generally the female targets have been sexualized over being developed, are never critical to the “plot” per se and don’t command anywhere near respect that the male characters do.

When we ambush Fuchs in the shower it’s a shift from him being absolutely confident in his evil schemes to him being powerless and afraid. When we ambush Diana it’s an opportunity to try to mix some sex in with the violence.

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I think point of naked Diana was to show her vulnerability and to gain 47s trust. To show that she is unarmed and she wants to talk. That was the only way to gain his trust. If she would do something suspiscious, she would get killed and would not be able to explain 47 why she did what she did.

So you’re saying if it was David instead of Diana then we would totally have had him showering when 47 arrived?

If Diana wanted to show 47 trust she could just have been waiting sitting in the room with her hands in plain sight, no weapons visible and asked to talk to him when he stepped in.

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Problem is, when Diana would be dressed and sitting, she would have a place to hide a weapon. I don´t say there is no sexism in Hitman games, I just say, Diana in shower, is not meant to be sexist and way she is taking a shower, it is a symbol of her redemption. And reborn…

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We can invent more or less any explanation we want for it. Trust me, academics interpret media in exciting and bizzarre ways and pornographers can invent all kinds of parody plots where prolonged sex scenes are central to the narrative.

However, it is ridiculous to propose that a fully dressed and visible unarmed Diana would pose a threat to 47. He is the finest Hitman who has ever lived and she is his handler - she does her best work behind a computer screen with a headset.

Diana in the shower was meant to be a chance to get some T&A into the game. Hence why it appeared in the trailers, menu screen etc, rather than being reserved for a pivotal moment.

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I suppose you’re right, I don’t really see the issue though. Who is this harming?

The makers of hitman 2 had more perverted fantasies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXb27gdgeLI

Wow, never seen this before. Speaking of ads I suppose those were sexist too. Blood Money showed all women being beautiful when they were dead. “Beautifully executed” I believe was the line on the magazines.

First of all, I guess we need to differentiate between the game itself being sexist, and the game sexualizing women, and the game reflecting real life sexism.

I’d argue, like someone else did here, that Diana’s scene is not sexualizing Diana at all, nor do I think it’s being sexist, except in almost the opposite way of how most people think of it.
The nudity is symolic of vulnerability, and isn’t played up for arousal or being sexy in my mind. The fact that it wouldn’t have been the same if Diana was a man is more a result of of sexism in society.
Men in general react negatively to male nudity no matter what the context, so a storyteller trying to reach a predominantly male audience would not use that symbol.

In a non sexist society Diana’s scene would remain intact, but it would be the same if she was male as well.

It’s more difficult to defend other points, but I think some of them (not all9 are more nuanced than simply being sexist.

All women, everywhere. Stereotypes and tropes that portray women only as objects with few to no other qualities are very harmful. I think the gaming industry is still developing its moral compass in regards to issues like gender and race, but there’s still a huge amount of progression needed if the industry is going to be less exclusive and more inclusive. Not all gamers are straight white men - Research conducted by the Entertainment Software Association suggests that 48% of gamers are female, which is a lot of people to marginalize and degrade.

I disagree. It’s the first time we are ever given a proper good look at Diana, and she’s 20 years younger than we were led to believe, naked, and in the shower. I think a series mainstay like her should have been given a more dignified reintroduction and treated with a little more respect when finally unveiling her. She’s just a value changer in the Absolution storyline, fitting into the “dead woman” trope to serve 47’s character arc whilst not even being dead. It’s pretty crazy when you consider how invaluable she was to the story of Blood Money. Going from a meticulous and calculating but ultimately heartfelt character who is capable of manipulating and staying in control of the entire situation with an epic triple cross whilst looking like she is going to be totally screwed - All while ensuring her only real friend, 47, is kept alive. That was a lovely representation if you ask me, subtle whilst also being quite graceful.

Anyway, I think we can all agree that if Diana were and had always been David, the audience would not have been introduced to him butt first, naked in the shower, arching his back in a sensual manner.

This is only because they’re not used to seeing it whereas female nudity has become normalized. In order for the status quo to stop being the status quo, someone has to break it.

Anyway, I agree with almost everything Jardel says. As much as I love Hitman (And I do love it very very much), I can’t in good faith defend the misogyny in Absolution. I don’t mean to single out Hitman, because it’s not the only franchise that does this, and it’s definitely far from being the worst at doing it. But as we can see, it had a lot of problematic elements. That said, it’s perfectly fine to be a fan of things that are problematic as long as you don’t try to defend or make excuses for the elements that are problematic. I can defend everything else just fine. It’s just far too easy to brush off misogyny by saying “It’s not TRYING to be realistic!” or “it’s just a game! Why does it matter?” When in actuality, what that level of misogyny says to female gamers is “Hey, you don’t count. This isn’t for you. Can’t you see that?”

In defense of Blood Money, I actually think that despite the sexually charged exterior it actually handled sexual themes in a somewhat abstract and thought provoking manner. The amount of sex, seduction and testosterone being thrown around by all other characters besides 47 was clearly meant to be overbearing and disgusting rather than arousing. Every character was getting it on, making 47 truly feel like an outsider and by proxy, the player too. 47’s abstinence really made him feel like the sane, silent pillar of a corrupt and twisted world.

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All points were good, however I’d argue the game isn’t inherently sexist - But portrays real life sexism - I don’t think the game intends directly to sexualize women but to make clear how some women are treated and seen in real life. Didn’t any of you ever watch pornography? - It’s a lot worse than the so called sexism in Hitman (and yes, I love porn) - Like I said, the developers may want to appeal to the large male audience, just like some games have been made in a way to be accessible to more players, most users here are male I guess, and like me, most enjoy seeing a hot girl in a videogame - I didn’t get disgusted by it, in fact I’d zoom their asses all the time - You can call me a freak if you wish, but it is inevitable.

We live in a sexualized society and women are portrayed everywhere as sex objects (indirectly) trough the media, I think Hitman is the lesser concern. There’s this mentality that women are supposed to be beautiful, gorgeous and seductive while men are supposed to be successful and make money, these are socially constructed concepts by western societies - And the game portrays that very well.

I still think we are making a storm inside a glass of water - Resident evil 5 was accused of racism too because the game was partly set in Africa and obviously the zombies (not all!) were black - does that make the game racist? I don’t think so. We could as well accuse GTA of sexism, and probably a LOT more than Hitman. Even Metal gear - didn’t you guys notice all girls have large boobs with cleavages? Even EVA, 78 years old had a nice cleavage.

I think these trends in videogames, while not necessarily good reflect the sexual mentality/culture of our society - The same happens in films, books, and in my case anime - We don’t stop enjoying those forms of art/entertainment because of that. I think, in a nutshell, that people take things too harshly, no one can express anything anymore that it’s considered offensive and discriminatory, it’s called political correctness.

It doesn’t portray real life sexism, it perpetuates it. That’s the difference. I think when you say that a piece of creative work only has misogyny and sexism present so that it can be seen as a representation of our actual society, that’s essentially saying that we cannot recognise characters or environments without that systemic prejudice being present. As if it would be too difficult to relate to the story without it. That’s all kinds of screwed up.

As a male, aren’t you offended by this? That the way to supposedly “appeal to a male audience” is to make all of the women scantily clad, hypersexualized objects with no other traits? It’s like, dude… There’s more to me than my penis. Men are intelligent beings. We are capable of all kinds of profound thoughts and emotions, and there are other ways to stimulate us as players and to get us interested. I don’t play Hitman for the butts, I play Hitman because I love the gameplay. Not everything we do, fictional or otherwise, is dictated to us by our testosterone and sexual organs and it’s offensive to men to assume that the only way for us to buy or enjoy something is to throw in not just rampant nudity, but rampant sexism and objectification. We are obviously capable of enjoying media that portrays women realistically, and there’s clearly a demand from female gamers (and many male gamers) for more accurate portrayals of female characters. It’s a win win situation.

I agree that Hitman is a lesser concern, and I’ve already stated that it’s far from being the worst in perpetuating sexism in gaming, but to ignore it is to justify it.

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So basically we might as well say Hitman incentives murder? Since the game revolves around having fun, gameplay wise, by murdering people while meticulously planning your hit - I think this would be a greater concern. Does GTA incentive drugs, prostitution, crime and gunfights? You are almost saying that just because a game shows something it is promoting it, that’s the problem with anti-video game people because they assume a game is the direct cause of violence and other problems - I don’t agree with that. Just because a game shows someone, let’s imagine - Doing drugs and getting really high and enjoying it - That doesn’t mean drugs are ok to do - Do you also think devil may cry DMC incentives smoking because the game had a trailer with Dante smoking a cig? Most of these games are M/18 rated anyway.

1 - I play Hitman for the gameplay and fun, I don’t care about naked women, if I want naked women I’ll watch porn
2 - But sadly the answer to your second question is yes - Most male gamers are not like the sample of people represented here in Hitman forums and will undoubtedly enjoy hot women in games, if I was younger and played Hitman once in a while I’d probably love seeing some boobs.
3 - To your first question - No I’m not offended because I respect the right of IO to express themselves, offended is something that happens when someone insults my family or disrespects me very heavily. I don’t fell offended at porn either, so why should I feel about Hitman? Even my girlfriend isn’t offended about porn. Let’s take the example of the woman in you better watch out and Eve - I see this as realistic and not sexism - If I was either of them and wanted to murder someone, I’d definitely use my physical attributes if the target was a male, why not? After all, I should do everything to take the hit successfully, no matter what - I think this actually shows us how some women unethically may use their physical beauty to achieve something they wouldn’t achieve other way - Don’t accuse me of sexism please, this is true and even some men do it, it’s not women exclusive - And the game succeeds in doing that, at least for me, the only way I got killed by Eve and the killer in YBWO was trough sexuality, I actually believed I’d had a strip or sex minigame, and in a certain way this shows the weakness in the male mind and not only negative things about women.
4 - I agree with you that they don’t need to portray every women as beautiful and hot, some different characterizations would be good.

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Not at all! I’m merely addressing the fallacy that Absolution was only sexist because we live in a sexist society, and how I find it problematic to suggest that - Because it goes to show how detached we are from everyday sexism to the point where Absolution’s misogynistic portrayal of women is actually considered as “realistic”, or taken at face value as an accurate representation of how men feel about women (consciously or subconsciously). The way we look at women in games like Hitman is a much more passive experience than, say, the way we kill our targets.

I know you’re not accusing me of being anti-videogame, but can I just clarify that I love video games, Hitman most of all. I only say these things out of love, tough love if you will - Because I love Hitman, I want it to rise above using cheap sexism and stereotypes/tropes when dealing with female characters. We know it’s capable of it, as we’ve seen it before. I consider games a developing and highly sophisticated form of art - But there’s still headway to be made. Mature stories can be told in games without rampant nudity. That’s not edgy, it’s just juvenile.

And of course, the onus isn’t solely on IO Interactive to lead this charge, they’re doing some amazing things with sound design and diegetic audio when it comes to storytelling which is truly inspiring.

Funnily enough, movies that show characters smoking in an attempt to glamourize it or movies that show unabashed and sensationalized drug abuse without addressing the consequences of addiction are usually more harshly scrutinized by the ratings boards - Though never censored. Which, I’d like to add, I’m not suggesting any game companies censor themselves, all I really want is to see a fairer portrayal of women and ethnic minorities in video games. It’s not too much to ask, really - Video games are for everyone :smile:

I don’t agree 100%, but this is an interesting point because it comes back to what I said about Blood Money earlier and portraying 47 as the straight pillar of celibacy in a corrupt world that is filled with overbearing amounts of sexuality. Players who attempt to indulge in said sexuality by following Eve or the Mysterious ? assassin are greeted with a brutal and embarrassing game over sequence for making you feel stupid enough to think that 47 might actually get laid. It’s a very clever role reversal and a nice trick on behalf of IO. I applaud things like that.

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Ok you made very good points and I partly agree with you, I don’t see much point in continuing the discussion since I’ve posted most of my arguments, maybe I’m just a little laid back and I don’t get offended as easily. Maybe I’ll buy Absolution for the PS3 since it’s only 20€ and play it, so that I can give more feedback, the only downside is the small TV.

The theoretical “in a non-x society” isn’t really helpful because we don’t live in one and we don’t have and hence we have to deal with all the contexts that we do have.

Diana’s shower scene has numerous techniques that undercut the underlying drama of the scenario in favour of titilation.

  • Way too much of the shot focused on Diana’s body rather than on giving the feeling of privacy or security being violated, she’s literally got a shower set up so you can see all of her once you step in the room.
  • Diana must be the world’s most profoundly slow bather since she doesn’t appear to be doing anything other than rinsing herself off so to keep her body wet and glistening, even Mona Sax sang in the shower in Max Payne 2
  • We saw it in the trailer, in the menu, etc so it no longer feels like we’re invading her bathroom - it feels like we’re accepting our invitation in (which the game decides we are)

Bottom line is that this had almost nothing to do with vulnerability and they chose nudity as their “flag” for it because they wanted to show off Diana naked. Just like in another production a co-ed girl not having money isn’t to symbolize the poverty inflicted upon students - it’s so she can offer to pay for her pizza in sexual favours.

There is a MASSIVE disparity between the treatment of male and female targets. So it seems very unrealistic to propose in this mountain of problematic behaviours to propose that Diana’s shower scene is a shining beacon of truly non-sexist media.

Particularly since when Saints attack, 47 has a full covering robe - why wasn’t he in the shower, rinsing his body down is slow panning and wide shots?

When a thing looks sexist and is amongst a collection of sexist things logic proposes that we require extraordinary evidence to show it to be not so - rather than the kindest possible interpretation that can be squeezed out of the circumstances acknowledged.

@Quinn already pointed out: Every woman, but in case that’s not motivating enough (, here’s some more people.

  • Hitman fans. Sexist bullshit like this diminishes the credibility of the brand and alienates audiences, so that means less sales and less support from people who’d get them sales.
  • IO Interactive. Loss of sales hurts jobs, hurts potential for new projects (or even keeping the studio open the way Square Enix’s books are) and the opportunities for the developers working there. It’s pretty hard to convince you’re a great 3D sculptor if your portfolio consists of the same “sexy girl” body done over and over with different hair.
  • Video games in general. When major publishers approve things like this it sends a message they’re indifferent and think that juvenile thrills of a little 3D boobie outweighs all the problems, thus the entire mentality of the industry is on par with grindhouse cinema and refusing to grow up.
  • You, the consumer. Every one of these is a missed opportunity that was pissed away because of this bullshit. Every one of these targets, their outfits and the moments around them could have been great moment in gaming and now it’s generic bullshit.

It’s very easy to not be offended when you don’t see the harm or suffer the consequences. That’s not a matter of being laid back, it’s just a matter of being selfish.

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Consequences? I am yet to see women suffering violence because of the Hitman series. Stop being pissed of , if I was a developer and wanted to place a naked woman in a shower I have the right to do it - There’s no need for a reason, maybe I just think naked women are beautiful and I decided to place her there. That’s enough for me.

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Fascinating focus. You, personally, do not see women suffering violence, specifically, because of the Hitman series, specifically. The notion that there could be millions of women suffering varying degrees of humiliations that foreshadow violence as part of the system of values Hitman perpetuates is insignificant - just so long as you don’t have to personally see it.

No snowflake ever feels responsible for the avalanche - Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

I suggest taking a more objective approach to morality. For example: Be opposed to sweat shops because you feel it’s repugnant to grind human beings down to nothing in the name of a higher profit margin, rather than wait until you personally witness someone die of exhaustion in a sweatshop before you decide to consider that it might be bad.

Nobody is disputing their right to do so, however I am judging them for it as is my right to do so. I am not beholden to your or obligated to adjust my viewpoint for your personal comfort in the slightest.

Even if we disregard that for a moment, as I stated above (and you apparently ignored) AAA games are a business. That means they make decisions based on it as a commercial product. Have a look in the Hitman Confidential thread and you’ll see they had many ideas they had the right to implement but chose not to due to various reasons. This is potentially no different.

It’s easy for you to pretend this is a non-issue because you have nothing at stake - so you don’t have to give an exit interview to an employee who’s being let go because a game failed to meet a sales quota, don’t have to navigate a shop carefully to avoid all the titles that portray your gender as slabs of meat, etc.

Utter selfishness aside - your opinion on if it’s enough is rather uninteresting because it simply represents a sample size of one person who is oblivious (and working hard to remain so) of the realities involved. We might as well flip a coin for all that it contributes.

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