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Turning the Table on Video Game Rapists?

August 4, 2010

Violence against women in video games is a sadly popular trend, the most repulsive example being the Japanese “game” Rape Lay, in which the player can simulate groping, then raping schoolgirls until they’re in so much pain they weep, “I want to die.” Once the girl has been completely degraded and violated, you can choose to snap a trophy pic or keep virtually raping her until she shuts up.

Rape Lay is the most grotesque example, but even mainstream games like Grand Theft Auto feature characters who have sex with, then brutally rob and murder, sex workers. Charming. Who wouldn’t want Santa to slip that under their nephew’s Christmas tree?

So in a way, Hey Baby, a new video game where the main character is a woman gunning down the men who pop up and harass her on the street, seems like fair play. Anyone who’s ever had her ass grabbed or “nice titties” whispered in her ear during her morning commute or walk to the store, has fantasized about—if not murdering—certainly smacking her tormentor upside the head.

Anyone who’s been on the receiving end of such unwanted attentions will attest that not only is the initial fear, disgust and revulsion extremely visceral, but that the resulting effects—jumpiness, mistrust, and anxiety—stick around long after the incident. In fact, Project Envision’s research showed that verbal street harassment was cited by Williamsburg Brooklyn residents as the #1 form of sexual violence they encounter.

While most of us don’t believe in an eye for an eye (or an eye for a “hey baby, let’s fuck”), the game is an interesting social experiment—but only if the right people watch it. In reviewing the game for the New York Times, Seth Schiesel writes, “I doubt any noninteractive art form could have given me as visceral an appreciation for what many women go through as part of their day-to-day lives. Just as I have never been sexually harassed, I have never accosted a strange woman on the street. After playing Hey Baby, I’m certainly not about to start.”

-Guest Contributor Judy

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