A long question left in comments, so I’m promoting it to the front of the blog.
I was referred to this site after discussing image issues on the role-playing game website, Giant In The Playground. At that site, I started a topics of discussion regarding body image in fantasy art and RPG books, particularly involving the game Dungeons and Dragons.
The thread in question can be found here:
One particular poster, whom I leave anonymous out of respect, said the following:
“Also, “heavy women are beautiful too!” is no less objectifying. That’s not the point! Women don’t exist to be attractive and sexual objects. It shouldn’t matter if they’re thin or fat or neither, ugly or pretty or neither, and there’s no real RPG art shouldn’t depict real people of both genders (and “conventions of the genre” are no excuse; I’m looking at you, superhero comics and superhero comics games). Holy hell, people.”
After responding to the effect that fantasizing is unavoidable, regardless of gender, he sent me a link to this blog, mainly for the reasons listed in the FAQ.
When asked by another poster “I’m sorry, how exactly is “heavy women are beautiful too” objectifying?” His response was thus:
“It’s “as objectifying as” “thin women are beautiful.”
It’s the idea that women’s attractiveness has any sort of inherent value or importance. Beauty as a value is a product of and a contributor to objectification. It doesn’t matter whether you say “thin women are beautiful” or “fat women are beautiful”, you’re still valuing them based on appearance.
By becoming aware that we are all taught to think like this – women and men both – and then realizing the idiocy of it, you can start to contribute, in a small way, to society being less objectifying.
And you cannot talk about people’s bodies without talking about people, directly or indirectly – especially in the context of western society, where the word “fat” automatically makes people think of qualities like “stupid”, “ugly”, “sick”, “greedy”, and so on.
Links again (because no, I am not here to educate, I am here to argue points):”
One of those links brought me here, and I’m hoping I could get some answers as to just what I’ve said that was offensive.
I have nothing against feminism (at least I don’t think I do), but I don’t know if I can avoid fantasies about them. Yes, I think heavy women are more attractive than thin women, but that doesn’t mean I judge women, or any other people for that matter, on appearance alone. I don’t allow my fantasies to get out of hand, or to hurt people. I just keep them to myself. Yes, I have sometimes roleplayed characters who conform to my fantasies, but that’s just fiction. It’s not real, and I’d be an idiot to think it was.
Can I truly be non-objective, even in my fantasies? Are my fantasies really that bad? How is asking the question “Why are there no fat elves in Dungeons and Dragons?” offensive to feminists?
Thank you for hearing me out.
I suspect that there’s more to the other person’s response than merely the question being asked. Just guessing because I haven’t had time to read the thread in question, but a slew of responses along the lines of “hell yeah fatties are sexy” would more likely be the culprit.
Can I truly be non-objective, even in my fantasies?
The problem is not so much that fantasies about particular phenotypes ever occur (women fantasise too), but that fantasies and objectifying are often the primary, indeed only, response to a woman entering a scene.
Women fantasising about men are swimming in a culture where every drama tells us about how men have complex reactions to events and their own personal goals that complicate interactions and that force compromises – objectification can only go so far in this cultural milieu. By contrast, men fantasising about women are swimming in a culture that shows women practically only coming to life when a man pays them some attention because he finds them physically attractive, and who either willingly abandon whatever time-filler pursuit they were involved in to support the man’s goals, or who object at first only to see the error of wanting a personal life – they become infatuated by his charismatic questing and then willingly abandon whatever they’ve been doing. Women reduced to puppets of narrative as a matter of course make objectification simple.
Feminists object to lazy writing and characterisation, and to fandom discussions thereof, that reinforce the cultural narrative that women are only there to reflect the objectives of men as an addition to the roster of trophies.