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Men’s Magazine Desires World Without Meaningful Consent

December 18, 2008


This image, of a scantily clad woman attached to a video game controller with the caption “Keep on dreaming of a better world,” was posted without comment at Sociological Images.

First of all, it seems pretty obvious to me what the man targeted in this ad (by a men’s magazine) is supposed to use the controller for, and I don’t think it’s making the woman in question do the Chicken Dance for a giggle. The question I keep coming back to is whether this is supposed to be a “real” woman who has somehow been modified and turned into an all submissive sex toy (read: rape victim), or if it’s supposed to be a highly realistic fembot that looks like a real woman for a man’s sexually assaulting pleasure.

Clearly, the former is the worse option, but I’m not sure how much better I would feel about the latter still being upheld as a part of a “better world.”

Of course, I realize that this image is supposed to be lighthearted.  It’s a “joke.”  But that doesn’t make it funny.

I think that images and “jokes” like this really do point out the deeply destructive and misogynistic rape culture we live under, when “sex” is so regularly portrayed in this way.  Few, I imagine, would consider this image to be promoting rape.  But personally, it’s all I can see.  After all, if the woman was willing and truly consenting, a remote control would not be necessary for her to perform the desired acts.  The idea of a completely sexually controlled woman, however tongue-in-cheek, is still promoting as a false-ideal a woman who cannot say no.  And a woman who quite literally cannot say no due to control from outside forces is in fact a woman who cannot give a meaningful yes.

Funny, my idea of a “better world” is one where women are sexually empowered and respected, not enslaved.

cross-posted at The Curvature

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2008 12:10 pm

    So, so well said Cara.

    Not to quibble but to analyze, I don’t think there’s a real distinction between options 1 and 2. Whether a man wants a fembot so realistic as to be indistinguishable from a sex partner, or wants a sex partner whose compliance is indistinguishable from a fembot, amounts to the same thing: a man who is manifestly opposed to women’s agency, who values women precisely and exclusively for their role in his sexual gratification.

    I’ll be in the shower, trying to figure out how to scrub my brain.

  2. Jackie permalink
    December 18, 2008 9:39 pm

    If you ask me as a woman gamer, she should be half naked playing video games with that controller! Now there’s an ad I could get behind!

  3. December 21, 2008 1:11 am

    I hate to the the one playing devils advocate here, but here goes.

    From the perspective of this company’s target market (insecure young men) “female sexual agency” basically translates into NO repeated again, and again, and again.

    Now, remember, in our patriarchal society, many young men are in social circles where they are judged by their male peers based on their sexual achievements with women. However, they are also in circumstances were they feel they have no realistic hope of sex with a woman based solely and exclusively on her ‘enthusistic consent”. In their view (and, to a large degree, in their real life experience) the sexual “consent” they get from their female peers is a brought and paid for commodity (IE, if it wasn’t for buying women stuff, they’d never get those women to be sexual with them).

    In fact, when I was in that age group, and in fact right up til now, the only sexual “consent” I’ve ever gotten from women was on those starkly commericial terms.

    So, coming from that world view, a robotic woman who’d have sex with you without you having to bribe her seems like liberation and a glorious victory.

    I know it may be hard to hear those words – but that’s the perspective I suspect the target audience for this add thinks in.

  4. December 21, 2008 10:00 am

    My problem, gangbox, isn’t with hearing it at all. It’s with you explaining all of that to me as though it somehow resolves the situation. It doesn’t, even though I don’t doubt what much of you say is true. Just because patriarchy teaches men to think this way about women doesn’t mean we ought to wash our hands of the situation. It’s precisely why we ought to be working to dismantle it by calling this out for what it is.

  5. Eric permalink
    December 21, 2008 7:11 pm

    Also, what no one’s yet pointed out, is that teenage guys (like teenage girls!) are horny. And negotiating heterosexual sexual relations is a minefield. Especially for people just starting out. And rejection SUCKS.

  6. December 21, 2008 10:44 pm

    Right, Eric! And you know the totally appropriate way to deal with the way that rejection sucks? To rape someone! Cause that’s almost like the rejection didn’t happen, because you still got laid. Only violently and in a way that will likely traumatize that other person for the rest of their lives!

    No seriously, what was your point? Because the way your comment stands with no explanatory context, I can’t for the life of me figure out what your point was other than to point out why rape culture actually makes sense.

  7. mekhit permalink
    December 26, 2008 2:18 am

    And rejection SUCKS.

    Yeah, well guess what sucks even more, Eric? GETTING RAPED. And I’m speaking from fucking experience with both rape and rejection…I know it’s shocking to assholes like you, but rape really, really does suck and can really, you know, ruin your life, and there is absolutely nothing sexy about it. It always blows my mind that men like you think they can use the rejection argument to excuse rape, because you know, women get rejected too, but I’m not about to use my past, many rejections as an excuse to go out and rape a guy or promote raping men.

    In fact, rejection is so difficult for guys like Che readers particularly because they view women as so lowly, and it’s one thing for an actual distinct, individual human being to reject you, but when somebody who you’ve been taught to think of as less than you, as only existing for your sexual pleasure rejects you, your entire universe is thrown into chaos. (“HOW COULD SHE?!?!”) If men weren’t taught to think of women in this way but instead to understand that we, like them, have different desires and personalities and that one rejection from one woman does not mean all women are evil bitches who deserve to be raped, perhaps we wouldn’t have people making arguments like yours. I have a fucking right to reject whoever I want without being raped, just like you do. Just because I reject you does not mean your fucking life is over. In fact, the most feminist guys I know, the ones who would be most appalled by this ad, also happen to be the ones who don’t let rejection ruin their lives, because they don’t assume that they’re entitled to women’s bodies and they understand that women are intelligent enough to make their own relationship decisions, even if those decisions mean not going out with them.

    And why the hell is it called “rejection,” anyways? Just because I don’t want to go out with somebody doesn’t mean I’m REJECTING them. One of my best friends in the entire world is a guy who used to like me, but even though I love him dearly I’d never want to date him. Despite this, there is nothing about him that I find objectionable or reject-worthy….I just think we work better as friends. People in our society really have messed up views of relationships and need to learn to be adults when dealing with each other rather than sitting around throwing stones just because they don’t get exactly what they want whenever they want it.

  8. gazuga permalink
    December 26, 2008 12:40 pm

    I’m the target audience and I see rape.


  1. Men’s Magazine Desires World Without Meaningful Consent : The Curvature
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