The price of admission concept is a term I came up with to describe how most, say, media forms tend to treat being inclusive to women. It’s basically the implicit (and sometimes very explicit) message that women will only be allowed, or are only /worth/ allowing at all, into the clubhouse of media if they meet certain specifications.. or to put it another way jump through hoops (Careful, some are on fire!) and take a lot of crap and general poor treatment while doing so. When it’s examined it starts to be obvious that it’s a pretty blatant double standard. Men are not treated nearly as poorly the majority of the time. I’m not saying men need to be treated badly to somehow balance this out, I’m saying that women need to be treated better.

Let’s use gaming culture as an example, since I’m most involved with that right now. Or, we could use.. superhero comic books, either one works really. That’s not to say those two are the worst examples, there’s a lot more and other mediums don’t always do that great of job treating women very well either. But anyway, in something like gaming culture, there seems to be a big neon sign to women before they step through the door. The sign comes off as reading, ‘you must be this objectified to enter’. It’s this pervasive idea that women aren’t valuable unless they’re sexually servicing men in some way or another.

Let’s list a few off sexploitation methods shall we? Chainmail/Metal Bikinis/Thongs, Shots that cut the women’s bodies off so that they can better focus on sexual parts, Ass Shots, Crotch Shots/Cameltoe shots, Inexplicable cleavage canyons in armor and the like, Soul Calibur 4 (http://geekywomen.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/soul-calibur-4.jpg), Iron-tipped nipples (often aided by skin-tight clothes that seem so tightly forming to a woman’s body that they might as well be painted on), Cleavage Shots, Pornface/Orgasm-face, Pin-up Poses, Fetish Wear (Fishnets, Heels, etc, especially in combat since that just makes them look incompetent and has you wonder if the people behind it take them seriously as /characters/ or think of them mostly as blow-up dolls).

There’s probably a lot more but I think that’s good. Isn’t even the word fanservice dishonest when this stuff is literally only catering to one part of the audience while usually ignoring the existence of the other half? ‘Sex sells’ seems just as dishonest, women seem to be the only ones having to sell it, so to me when people repeat that cliche I only understand as ‘So, the sexual exploitation of women sells so it’s okay!’. Yeah, can’t say I’m agreeing with that, don’t think the profit motive is going to work there. This doesn’t just happen once or twice, here and there, this sexual exploitation happens to female characters so frequently it’s hard to keep count. Not all of that at once, but it doesn’t have to be to get gratuitous.

On top of this, women get shoved into the same generic muscleless (what, strength is ‘masculine’ trait now? Pffft) sexpot look over and over again while men get plenty of varied body types. You can start to understand why women would feel discouraged when it seems like the messages from these industries are often ‘be tits and ass or gtfo’. For the people who say this is women being ‘idealized’… I will ask… idealized for who? The men in the audience right? People say it’s just ‘fantasy’ and ‘escapism’ but for who? You can’t wonder why more women don’t play games if you’re making men to appeal to men’s power fantasies and making women to.. appeal to men’s sexual fantasies. It’s all one-sided, it’s completely unfair, and perpetuating it is clearly pretty messed up. One can’t blame women for ‘not being interested’ when one is actively  continuing to thoughtlessly exploit and stereotype them this way. The people who support this stuff and shout down anyone who challenges it are the ones pushing those women away.

Plenty of women do not want to tolerate the price of admission. The price that they pay by having to put up with them and representations of them being reduced to existing only to sexually service men and their desires. And they shouldn’t have to pay that price, because it’s sexism. Telling them to go play something else isn’t exactly helpful, that’s practically just asking to be just ignore active discrimination against them. Maybe, instead, we should just stop treating women like fap material so much. Maybe we should try a little respect. And I know what another response to this would be too ‘but men are attracted to women’. To that I will say.. we are all human beings capable of self control. Why does that attraction need to bleed over into so much of our media and why does it need to be turned up to such a degree as to continuously objectify women and define them by men’s sexual attraction to them as sexual parts? It’s not that the attraction is wrong, it’s that the sex drives are being prized over actually taking the women in the audience and how they feel about being represented like that over and over again. Also, porn exists and all, do the women in games really need to be your fix?

So how about we take off the price and just start welcoming women in with no strings attached? (Sidenote: Unless the muscle men are shirtless, pantsless, oiled up, wearing banana hammocks with their crotches outlined, as in not neuter as they are even when in /spandex/, and ass sufficiently plump, not flat as a board and generally expressionless, then no.. it’s not the same thing. Men are not sexually exploited to the degree and amount women are in official works.)

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