Enter the Dominatrix

Trigger Warnings – Sexual content

Sorry for yesterday, I needed to vent and have a little bitch fit but with that done, here is the post I actually wanted to write yesterday. I decided to get my gamer shades on again and write about another new release that I wish I could get but alas, once again, my lack of a Wii U is biting me in the backside. The more astute Nintendo fans can put two and two together as they figure out which recent release on the Wii U is about a sexualised character – yup, I want Bayonetta 2. The game has been a long awaited release for fans of the original like myself and if you don’t know about this game, I urge you to find out about it. The lovechild of a forbidden romance between a sage and a witch sells her soul to darkness for the powers to kill the angels that destroyed her kind and is led on a wild goose chase across the city of Vigrid as she tries to remember her past, suss out who her true enemy is and generally try to have fun. Bayonetta evokes a marmite reaction as a game though because the protagonist is a woman with legs up to her eyes in a tight catsuit that takes off this catsuit to use it as a living weapon and her motions are generally erotic so whilst some love the game, some call it a shameless attempt to pander to the male gaze and a degrading interpretation of women in video games. I am here to argue on behalf of Bayonetta, seeing as she wouldn’t argue her case, she’d just whip til you apologise and then “How do the Americans put it? Pop a cap in yo ass”

Before I begin, obviously this is the view of a white male, a liberal-minded feminist white male but still ultimately male. I am not a woman, I do not represent women and this article is purely my opinion so don’t give me flak if this seems like a lopsided argument, it is purely what I think of the character and you are free to your own interpretations. Ok, I should also add that I do not like Bayonetta as a game solely on the basis that the lead character is a sexy witch with a posh accent, whilst that sounds attractive I actually like the game for the fluid combat system, interesting plot (which granted is not dissimilar to that of Devil May Cry 4 but the same producer so hey) and the pleasing aesthetics and controls of the game making it one of the most well constructed and replayable games of the genre so again, no flak, I’m not defending Bayonetta out of some sort of raging horniness over the protagonist

Bayonetta, to me, represents a great character and a great female character. Bayonetta is strong, but not in the moody bitch with guns kinda way, by contrast she is actually quite cheerful, stern but she has fun doing what she does. Bayonetta is not the reluctant grump like most ‘strong’ female characters who just sorta get dragged into it and make snide comments whilst pointing guns at things half-heartedly, but she’s also not the other type of strong female character who is just sounds constantly horny but denies anyone a touch except that one guy. Sure, there’s Luka but Luka isn’t to Bayonetta what the Doctor is to River, they aren’t equals engaged in playful banter, Luka is Bayonetta’s little ball of fluff, something to amuse her, she evens calls him “Cheshire”, the name she gave her stuffed toy. To be honest, I think Bayonetta only tolerated Luka’s hatred and didn’t just snap his neck was because he’s funny when he’s being self-righteous and angry because Bayonetta knows it’s a load of shit and that if she stood there naked before him, he’d forget his grudge in an instant and beg for her touch. Bayonetta sees through the men of the game, shown as shallow and greedy incompetents, and she just strings them all along for her own amusement with no consequences on her part because she knows she’s what they want, she is a weapon in more ways than one

You see, I feel the problem most writers face, including myself, is that a strong female character in their mind is a woman who is just grumpy and packs a weapon of some description. Sexualised in appearance but not attitude and she resorts to either making smart-ass comments or showing no personality at all to assure the men around her that she will not be sleeping with them. I have yet to meet a woman like that because that’s not a woman, not really. Female characters are like male characters, they need to have strengths, weaknesses, hopes, dreams, fears and things to be proud of. A good female character has to incorporate something that is true of women-kind – perhaps your female character has insecurities about their appearance and shrugs it off by acting all arrogant (Lana Kane), perhaps your female character despises children because she is a fun loving young free spirit scared of commitment because of a history of loss and being surrounded by shallow self-serving idiots has her doubting the honesty of everyone around her (Bayonetta). You see where I’m going with this? By trying too hard to make her strong, you deny her female identity and then you’ve either got the fetishistic guns-and-tits combo character or the miserable companion character stuck following after your impulsive male lead. Good female characters have things that make us remember they have issues that matter to them and that remind us that these characters can add something to a formula that enhances it much more than the absence of that character. Doctor Who didn’t take a downward spiral after River Song left because she was the confusing sexy-counterpart to the Doctor but Amy Pond was more, she was a mother, she was stuck in a love triangle and she had dreams that were crushed and had to deal with that – that’s why more people miss Amy than miss River, from what I’ve seen at least

Leading back to Bayonetta, Bayonetta embraces her female identity and uses it as a weapon to distract her opponents, overwhelm their senses and all the while have a good giggle. Bayonetta is sexualised and erotic yes, but not for the sake of it, she is a dominatrix, so very clearly. The themes of BDSM in her choice of weapons, the ‘Climax’ attack, the tongue-in-cheek humour of sex that, never directly refers to the act or even the parts involved but she talks about “playing games” and “pillow talk”. Bayonetta is teasing her enemies and bringing the saints to sinners as a power play simply because she can and she enjoys it, note the constant smug grin on her lips. Bayonetta is very intelligent and manipulative, she doesn’t waste her talents on Rodin or Enzo because they’re on her side, she knows she has them under her thumb but the angels? Enemies, enemies that she taunts with her sexuality. A sexualised woman is not a bad thing, I think I covered that before, this is a woman who is proud of her body and flaunting it on the battlefield to bring her enemies to their knees so she can execute them with ease. Personally, I love it, I think she’s funny and witty and charming and it’s good to see a character who is sexualised for a reason. Women in games are generally sexy for no apparent reason, like Ivy in Soulcalibur, why does she don such a skimpy outfit that is very out of character for one so uptight? The answer there is male gaze but Bayonetta does it on purpose, she wants the world to stare, she wants people to gawp or call her names because she takes life with a spring in her step out of a sense of superiority

The game is universally well received and the sequel is already beloved but one review knocked it down for being too sexualised to enjoy. I’m sorry, what? Ok, firstly, I thought gaming guys, as a stereotype, loved this stuff but the fact that your lead character is someone who knows they’re hot stuff, embraces it and uses it as a weapon is a bad thing. Oh right, silly me, women shouldn’t be openly proud of being attractive, how disgusting. I forgot that confidence is a terrible personality trait. Would the game be enhanced for Bayonetta being your standard female character for this genre? Come on, what’ll it be – skimpy clothes and acting as if they’re normal attire or dirty hair and a tank top? Bayonetta is a statement, it wants to stand out, it pokes fun at needlessly sexy characters by making one who is sexy for a reason, she’s fabulously flaunting what her momma gave her because she wants to. I think it’s a bold move and a welcome refreshment from samey-characters and games, I dare you to find me five games quite like Bayonetta. Struggling? Ok, five games like… well let’s say Dead Space. Oh that was easy, there’s fucking tons. Space age shooter with cool outfits and tech? Halo, Alien:Isolation, Dead Space, Mass Effect, Doom. Sure, the camera is gratuitous with body shots but I can’t help feeling the camera acts as if the witch herself directed it – she’s hot, whatever the style, and she wants us all to know that

I don’t know, maybe you disagree, maybe you don’t, but I think Platinum Games created something fun and unique and made a character I’d personally enjoy the company of… if it weren’t for the fact she’d probably just chain me to a wall until she got bored of slapping me in the face

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