Let’s Talk About Nudity

Ever noticed how tits ‘n ass are all we ever see in sex scenes? The Witcher has hundreds of sex scenes throughout the series, and yet, have you ever seen Geralt’s penis? It seems like every sex scene in any 18+ rated game is filled with boobs and naked females aplenty, but men’s genitals are almost too sacred to be shown on-screen. Women too have been given the ‘black bar’ treatment – covering their most private areas for fear of exposing some kind of monstrosity.  If a true sexual encounter were to take place in a game, the developers shouldn’t be half-assed about it, they should show the body the way it is, without the shame and stigma that seems to be attached.

Watch her diving into the water just before this scene

Before we continue – a vocabulary lesson. Nudity implies being without clothes. Nakedness implies being exposed: being put on display for someone’s pleasure. Here’s my problem: sex in games exposes a woman’s nakedness. There is a feminist concept called ‘the male gaze’, meaning that art (in any form) is catered to men, and that women are depicted as unrealistically proportioned in such art. Have you seen Geralt being straddled by a ‘fat’ chick? It’s because games are still in the male gaze phase. Seeing as women are a relatively new addition to the gaming community, developers seem to be catering more to their (former) primary demographic. Women have been depicted unrealistically for centuries, because it was always men who were painting/drawing/animating them. Triss would not have been on the cover of Playboy if she had a potbelly. But here is the honest truth, ladies and (especially) gentlemen: women don’t look like that. Of course, men see Victoria’s Secret models and beautifully shapely women in the games they play, but take a look around when you come back to the real world: the most common shape for women is pear (when the hips are wider than the shoulders). Why? Because women were designed to give birth, and it’s difficult to push a miniature human out of this:

That’s Yennefer. But who cares? It’s a naked woman woohoo!

Therein lies the problem of society: assuming that women look like Triss or the shapely female Inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition.  Real women obsess over this by dieting, wearing spanks, or even getting cosmetic surgery, just to live up to this standard of beauty. The tiny modicum of respect that I have for the Kardashians (it really is a tiny amount) stems from the fact that they have brought back the idea of ‘shapely’ beauty – with the exception of the fake asses.

If you think I’m speaking total crap, consider this:

‘The Turkish Bath’ by Ingres

This painting by Ingres illustrates my point perfectly. Ingres portrayed his idealistic vision of what women should look like, but only shows the ‘good bits’, and not the entirety of what a woman’s body is. This is as present today in the art of gaming as it was in the days of Ingres and Degas.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell this 150-year-old painting has to do with sex in gaming. My point is simply that the culture surrounding modern games still idealises women and treats their bodies with less respect than males. If you’re going to show the true form of a body, at least show it authentically, and yes, I include both sets of genitals in that statement. If you’re thinking “ew”, then you too are succumbing to the culture of the male gaze – men don’t want to see some other guy’s junk in a game, but a woman, fully naked, is great. On the other hand, we have Conan Exiles, in which you can literally customise the barbarian’s penis. Men playing Conan can feel ‘more manly’ by making an excessively large penis, but the issue I have is still relevant: Conan’s penis is not there for the pleasure of the viewer (or at least no more than the pleasure of living vicariously through a well-endowed video-game character), but instead a physical manifestation of masculinity and power.

In the ancient world, the penis was considered god-like. Most men still think this, but I mean it literally: centuries ago the male sex organ was considered the ultimate personification of manhood. There are hundreds of statues and sculptures that have been found depicting the penis as a manifestation of power. The Bible even has a verse along the lines of: “if a woman’s husband is in a fight, and the woman grabs the other man’s genitals, her hand must be chopped off without pity”. I’m not even kidding. Google it. Thus, I’m of the opinion that, while male nudity shows power and ultimate masculinity, female nakedness shows vulnerability, and the vagina is almost almost stigmatised (why can’t we customise the labia of our female characters too?). Developers currently put more effort into making the women in their games as sexy as possible, without giving their nakedness the power that Conan and his customised penis has.

A far more realistic portrayal of the female form

I’m not a radical feminist: I’m not saying “boycott game-boobs!”, I’m simply pointing out that it is unfortunate that games are perpetuating the myth of the ‘perfect female body’. Even Mattel is on-board by giving Barbie a realistic makeover, thus breaking the cycle of young girls striving to look like a superficial and impractical version of a plastic play-thing (I’m talking about Barbie, perverts).

My point is: we no longer live in the ancient civilizations when the Bible was still in the drafting phase. We live in a modern society where women are allowed to vote, and even grab a guys junk without losing an appendage. A penis is just a penis. It is no more sacred than a pair of breasts or a vagina. Why then, are developers comfortable showing women fully naked, but rarely men? In fact, even films shy away from male full frontals. The argument that men are self-conscious about size is not good enough – don’t you think women feel the same about their breasts? That’s why boob jobs keep cosmetic surgeons in mansions and Bugattis.

If women are to be naked for the pleasure of men, then they should at least be portrayed more realistically, and digitally-unaltered penises should play just as important a role as the female body, in all its glory. Games will never stop depicting nakedness, but they can certainly improve upon making it more realistic. An RPG is a simulation of another person’s life. If there are sex scenes, they should be authentic. In life we don’t avoid looking at genitals during sex. It only makes sense to add realistic genitalia to gaming in order for full immersion to truly take place. I ask only that the women in these games stop being some idealised porn-star version of a sultry succubus, but instead, as a real woman, with flaws, and not as another Barbie doll for the adult world.

[Edited 23/02/2017]

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Belinda Brock

Belinda is a passionate gamer with a passion for writing about her gaming experiences. She loves all things (J)RPG and sifts fanatically through the internet to find any and every one until she has played them all. You may not agree with her opinion, but freedom of speech is not yet illegal and she will take advantage of that for as long as she can.

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30 responses to “Let’s Talk About Nudity”

  1. RabbitFly Avatar

    This article needs a bit more focus I think. You keep going back and forth between two very seperate issues and it makes it a bit hard to follow.

    Do you want more penises in games or do you want more realistic women in games. Both are fine, I mean there is no reason you cannot ask for both, but they are not really related. Which is why I found the article a bit unfocused and confusing.

    I don’t personally know enough about the theory of the male gaze so I can’t really speak to it’s validity. It seems logical enough to me, but there are large parts of the art history that would argue the idea that the male gaze predominately affects woman. Especially when you talk about the how the male body used to be the subject of obsession in ancient greek, not the female.

    Regardless of all those things however I do support your claims. In that I think you should be able to ask for sexually enticing content as much as any male.

    1. Don Auger Avatar
      Don Auger

      I agree, not only was this article lacking focus, I found some of the arguments very weak. Comparing a penis to a “landing strip?” The last I heard a landing strip was a style of pubic hair, not description of labia and vaginal openings. It is unfair to equate the full male anatomy with seeing the tuft of hair above a woman’s genitals. Without that comparison, the author really doesn’t have an argument that men and women are treated differently because both are portrayed topless, and with rears exposed. Both are saved the embarrassment of revealing their specific genital dimensions to the audience. While I do agree that penises should enjoy greater exposure in media–not just video games–I believe so because sexual anatomy should not be rendered so taboo in progressive society, not because we readily see boobs.

      Further, using the using ‘the turkish bath’ to illustrate that penises are unpopular in art is a VERY poor argument. There are many much more readily recognized pieces of art (ones that are arguably held to higher acclaim as well, I might add) that depict penises just as freely. Just because you know a painting that depicts a group of nude women doesn’t mean art has been socially condemned for depicting nude men. Come on.

      Lastly, let’s stop saying women don’t look like that please. I’ve been married for ten years to a woman who very much shares the shape of nude video game characters and actors. Not all women are pears, and not all women are fat, but statistically speaking those who are tend to couple with men who are analogous in physicality. If you expect to see a cut, rugged character like Geralt of Rivia straddled by a fat chick then you will likely find yourself disappointed, but please don’t get too offended. It is much more unrealistic to expect the coupling in ‘King of Queens’ than it is to see two sexy people getting sexy together. If you want to water down the sex appeal of fictional characters, it will likely have to be across the board. That might be a heavy task though, since you’ll have to convince the majority they don’t want to see sexy people anymore.

      1. Belinda Brock Avatar
        Belinda Brock

        I agree – men are also depicted unrealistically. However, I studied art history in uni and I know for a fact that females are more readily depicted naked than males. Lucian Freud is a brilliant artist who depicted people as they really are, though more grotesque to get the point across that no one is perfect. However, his art is post-feminism and very few artists pre-19th century even bothered depicting males in art because most artists were male themselves and preferred the female form – as did their audience.

    2. Yeah there’s nothing wrong with her request. It’s the beliefs behind that request that bothers me. I don’t think men assume women are always beautiful in the real world as they see in these games. We’re not stupid. But there’s definitely concern to be had for women who have a growing lack of self confidence and the need to look beautiful by society’s standards. It’s especially bad right now concerning young girls. Though I think this stems more from the effect of social media and the likes of instagram and snapchat that where it’s influenced these cases.
      Also, her argument that the classical painting she refers to wouldn’t be as famous if it were naked men is clearly false. There are many famous artworks depicting naked men. It’s a bizarre argument to make.
      I also don’t think it’s about that they think men don’t want to see it. I think we’re at a point now in society where we’ll accept it. We all know there’s examples where men’s genitals are depicted in games – it exists and she has ignored that fact. Lastly, she uses way too many archaic instances that rarely exist now and I think are plainly irrelevant to her argument. Use instances from the period when these games were made, you know, as in now.

      1. RabbitFly Avatar

        No worries. I just wanted to get through that anyone should have the right to want stuff to entice them, in whatever way they like.

        However I don’t think this article manages to get to any real point. It doesn’t really argue from a feminist point of view either. Which is why I gave the author the benefit of the doubt and tried to be constructive in my criticism.

        However one could argue that many of the points the author is trying to make, while not really pushing feminist agenda per say, it seems to be based on the idea that some third wave feminist claims are true.

        Now I am not saying they are true or false exactly, as I never wanted to get into that discussion. I just think the author should have focused on one of the issues and then done a proper analysis and used objective data as its base.

        It would certainly have made this discussion more interesting for anyone involved.

      2. Belinda Brock Avatar
        Belinda Brock

        Art history minor – female form was more revered pre-19th century and thus captured in an idealistic manner due to artists being predominantly male

  2. heavenshitman1 Avatar

    I think penises are lesser depicted than female anatomy purely because female bodies generally look more attractive, and sex sells. Guys genitals im thinking are more utilitarian, such is my opinion (Im a guy). I think most the games depicting naked females are games primarily played by males.
    Start putting guys genitals out there and you’ll probably have girl gamers protesting in disgust kicking up issues about it.
    And to be fair, most games with male hero’s have them unrealistically depicted as well with impossibly perfect muscles and physical capabilities beyond reality. Just look at Sam Fisher in Blacklist. An aged man leaping cliff faces off his bare hands.
    As a result you don’t see most guys taking steroids to achieve that kinda prowess..

    Bottom line, don’t make too much of it, even in Disney movies all female main characters are drop dead stunning. Because it’s what the fans want

  3. jason___a Avatar

    There is already plenty of male nudity in games and everywhere else. No, there isn’t a lot of penises on display perhaps, but that doesn’t mean there is no male nudity. There are plenty of unrealistic nude arms/chests/legs and even more with body types that are completely unattainable and this stuff is extremely prevalent.

    There are plenty of naked male chests out there, but maybe that doesn’t count. Perhaps because it’s too easy to come by? Yet the opposite argument is constantly given regarding women’s breasts, that they should be allowed to be topless because men can.

    You mention the ‘landing strip’, by which I assume you mean pubic hair, not the vagina. I’m sure there are examples of male butts, and even low pelvic region exposure… but i don’t agree that female topless and pubic hair is equitable to the male penis in terms of the graphicness of nudity.

    There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of stupid stuff in games with respect to nudity. I agree that it should be toned down. Same with the language and gore. All these areas are immature and take away from the intelligent enjoyment of a game.

    If anyone, male or female, thinks that digital genital exposure is required to enjoy a game, they’re in the game for the wrong reasons.

  4. Nudity in games is mostly based on market and as much as many want to deny it, women don’t make half of the market. When you remove mobile games the video game market is overwhelmingly male. And between straight males, lesbians and bisexuals female sexuality will always sell more by a large margin.

    1. Bryan Rumsey Avatar
      Bryan Rumsey

      But why arbitrarily remove mobile games? Especially when female sexuality appears to be used more heavily in that market. Game of War is the most notable but even Nintendo has a scantily clad busty woman for the new Fire Emblem (she isn’t used in promo material but you’ll see her in the first loading screen and in the intro movie).

    2. It’s a vicious cycle. Look at video game advertising in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Look at how women were represented in those ads and games; it would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. Did that prevent some women from getting into games? I’d argue that it did since most people don’t want to be involved with something that obviously doesn’t respect them. While things are far better now than they were back then, there’s still issues. By playing to the market they have now, developers and publishers will never grow to the market they could have.

  5. I see no problems with video games and movies showing beautiful women with big boobs, it’s not real life and in most cases it’s not supposed to be. It’s entertainment and showing a bunch of fat lazy naked people is not entertaining me. Most half brained people know that we don’t live in a fantasy world where everyone is beautiful and they shouldn’t expect such high standards of people in the real world. I have no problem though if a game wants to show more realistic versions of people as long as that’s their decision and they don’t feel forced to do so.

    As a straight man i want to see more penises in games, i think it’s about time that people stop being so afraid to expose male genitalia to the world. If there is a market for it i think games should be made with scantily clad men with bouncing bulges crammed inside too small banana hammocks for entertaining the straight women or gay man. Shoot, if the game is any good i would play it myself.

    I’m really getting tired of the PC movement here in America, where if i don’t agree with you then i’m thrown in with the Nazis and sexists. If you think about how a lot of the sjw/pc crowd won’t even listen to your point of view or even respect the fact that you are allowed to have another opinion and immediately shut you down and label you, well that seems more Nazish too me then anything else.

    I’ll admit it, i love big boobs and butts jiggling around in movies and games. not all the time but when i’m in the mood for it i’m glad it exists. I don’t have any unrealistic expectations of people in the real world, i know what i’m seeing/playing isn’t what to expect out in life but that shouldn’t stop me from enjoying it. I’m not one of those people that expect everything i like to be allowed an everything i don’t like to be shut out and banned. I take the good with the bad and roll with it. We should be allowed to express ourselves and enjoy life even if it means other people may not agree.

    Sorry for the long comment i just feel strongly about these things. I’m not a good writer and not that smart either but i respect all people that respect me and i see beauty in all shapes and colors. Do i enjoy sex and violence in video games? yes i do, am i a good person? yes i am.

    1. I see where you’re coming from Aaron, and agree with you on a number of points. That being said, people (particularly younger women) being exposed to unrealistic body ideals is harmful. It goes beyond being PC Principle in my opinion, and lands squarely on showing diversity. Folks being able to look at a character they admire and being able to say (unconsciously or not) “Hey, they’re like me in these ways”. Often times this is a reaction to writing and behavior, but physical traits are definitely in there as well. By only showing one body type we’re telling people that ‘this is what the ideal female or male looks like.” I personally don’t see an issue with big boobed narrow waist skinny girls in games, but when they’re in there to the exclusion of other types then that’s an issue in my mind.

      Thanks for your comment by the way, you’re a fine writer; even if you’re wrong! (ok, kidding about that ‘wrong’ part! hehe)

  6. buddyluv324 Avatar

    One of the more superficial, and possibly the most self-projecting articles of sexism in games I’ve seen yet. It’s little wonder why LewdGamer roasted it. Nothing here mentioned isn’t anything gamers havent already heard before. If the author wants examples of exposed penises in gaming, there’s plenty of that in the eroge gaming market. The big difference here is that with eroge games on the PC, that platform isnt as heavy with parental ratings restrictions, unlike the console gaming market. The article just shows that the author has done little research on the topic.

    1. Do we get an award of we’re the MOST superficial? Can you post a link, I’d like to know what we should aim for.


      1. buddyluv324 Avatar

        I guess whatever helps gets Belinda her 15 seconds of fame.

        But in all seriousness, I have notice a common theme when it comes to these arguments that have a predictable passive aggressive tone to what gamers should like and/or what games should be. The problem with these arguments is that they dont usually hold water because Belinda is coming at it at from her own personal perspective, which isn’t bad in itself, but comes off shallow and limited.

        1. Isn’t that what an editorial is?

          I’ve really enjoyed having a bunch of dudes chime in and tell a woman that women shouldn’t feel objectified. Fascinating!

          1. buddyluv324 Avatar

            Right. And like any other editorial, hers isn’t exempt of being criticized either. It doesn’t help that there are “dudes”, as you put it, chime in and try to set Belinda up to imply that she’s some type of trophy damsel. She herself made the decision to write the article and post it up online for people to see. So weather the constructive feedback is positive or negative, its on her as an adult to take whatever said constructive feedback she receives. If she’s unable to, it’ll just show that she has an even weaker stance on her editorial and lacking any confidence on every word she put on that article.

          2. Belinda Brock Avatar
            Belinda Brock

            I have every confidence in my views which is why I wrote an article articulating them. I appreciate criticism when it doesn’t insult me personally

          3. J.j. Barrington Avatar
            J.j. Barrington

            Then you should love having a handful of women tell men that they’re doing things they’re not doing.

  7. Yes.. sexy-funtime scenes in games objectify women.. this is known. That’s sort of the point of these scenes. Games are a form of fantasy and so the human form is idealized so you the gamer can play out your fantasies. Do I think they should throw a penis in there too? Sure. Why not? I’m a grown adult and I’m comfortable enough with my sexuality that seeing a penis doesn’t perturb me (or confuse me.. haha). Do I think they should put more plus-sized women in games? Sure.. Why not? (some of us actually prefer those).

  8. Rocco Salvetti Avatar
    Rocco Salvetti

    More realism in games, that would be about time. I am tired of escapism, in bodies and stories that don’t belong to any experience.

  9. This is stupid, it’s takes significantly more effort to model a penis than either a vagina or boobs which are literally just textures no extra polygons necessary, thats a major reason and also because people would get outraged if there was an erect penis on show same goes for an open vagina or 3D modelled labia. There are tonnes of games with flaccid penises but its more about the context such as in survival games they have them. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see geralt’s penis and there should be more in games but its just not worth it for developers to do and theres a scene where geralt is fully naked but its too dark to see his junk because theres no point to model that.

    1. We were talking about that on our Slack chat earlier today, haha. Beside the main point she’s making, but definitely funny.

  10. J.j. Barrington Avatar
    J.j. Barrington

    So where are the vaginas? Complain about the lack of penis, but while full frontal exists for both males and females, an erect penis is usually not shown. Similarly, you’re not likely to see a vagina at all. So will there be complaints about that?

  11. The article is not about the discussing of nudity in games or even entertainment in general or even objectification. It is about imposing an ideology onto an artist’s medium. Just as it bad for the religious to impose their ideology to censor the human body, it is censorship to impose your ideology of ‘equal representation’ upon another’s work. Regardless of the reason, whether it be personal or business in nature, an artist’s should be free to choose how to express himself. If one is not interested in seeing ‘unrealistic form’ of a body, then simply don’t look. It not the world job to cater to you; that is your job. If you feel bad about yourself because of objectifying material, then stop personifying objects. Games and toys are not real people; beauty is not a person, it IS an object and one that changes depending on the person. If you feel good about your own beauty, then why do you object to the views of what others see as beauty? Trying to force people to change their opinions because of your beliefs is tyranny, pure and simple. Censorship is censorship, regardless if you believe your cause is just or not.

  12. Belinda Brock Avatar
    Belinda Brock

    My my my, what a varied barrage of critiques. Thank you to those who managed to give feedback without insulting me as a person. To the trolls: if you can write something better then be my guest. It’s easy to attack a writer from behind a computer screen, but try saying it to my face. I write what I like, when I like, and how I like. This is an opinion piece and if you disagree, that’s great – it creates discussion. Just learn the vocabulary to do so in a decent manner.

    Thanks for record high views.

  13. Belinda Brock Avatar
    Belinda Brock

    You’re right – men are depicted unrealistically as well. It just wouldn’t fly with a feminist argument.

  14. Alex Reynard Avatar
    Alex Reynard

    Serious question: is a corpse an object? If yes, then is it not objectification when so many games feature you turning hundreds if not thousands of anonymous/similarly dressed/sometimes even faceless men into corpses?

    I’m not even disagreeing with your point. I’m just saying, I see no reason why both ideas of objectification can’t be simultaneously true, yet it’s only ever talked about when it’s being done to women. Imagine for a moment playing a game where you are expected to slaughter uncountable women without any thought to their worth as human beings. Where your worth is measured in how many women you kill. Wouldn’t that feel a little uncomfortable to you? Why do we never consider what the opposite effect has on boys?

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