Dear Friend: DNF Isn't About Misogyny, It's About Being Disgusting
I have to be careful here. This is a time to step lightly and be cautious with one's words.
Gamer Abdul Siddiqui has accused developer Gearbox Software of being misogynistic and as such, he is boycotting their products (which means not purchasing the newly released and critically acclaimed Borderlands 2). Siddiqui bases his bold misogyny claim on Gearbox's Duke Nukem Forever, which featured quite a lot of potentially offensive material.
For the record, and this cannot be forgotten when reading the following argument, I don't necessarily disagree that Duke Nukem Forever could really offend people, especially women. That's a given. Furthermore, having an old-fashioned respect, almost reverence, for the fairer sex, I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to men who mistreat and abuse females. I place such idiots somewhere between rodents and belly button lint on the ladder of civilization. And it's easy to forget that, during times of fun and leisure, someone might feel uncomfortable or even threatened.
That being said, Mr. Siddiqui, misogyny is not the correct term to use. Going by Webster's definition, misogyny is "hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women." There's no doubt that the character of Duke Nukem is a hopeless womanizer and treats females as objects of desire and little more. The best that can be said for his personality is that he's a playful macho sh**head. However, what you're describing in DNF is Duke killing women who have morphed part-way into aliens; hence, they become his enemies. If it were a female main character and there were half-naked men transformed into aliens, would you consider that misandry (hatred of males)?
If one were to perform an in-depth psychological breakdown of Duke's character and personality, one might discover that he indeed has a mistrust, perhaps even a fear of women, which is why he acts the way he does. But that could be a stretch and besides, we are not meant to delve so deeply. Here's what you're missing: Duke Nukem was never meant to be taken seriously. It's lewd, crude, and disgusting. It always has been. It's obscene and offensive and if a production could be given an IQ, DNF would come in well below the mentally retarded line. Last I checked, the mentally crippled aren't responsible for their actions.
Forgive that little joke, but you get my meaning, I hope. There is a wide gap between being disgusting for the sake of disgusting, and misogyny. Misogyny is purposeful, designed to be hurtful, and expressly intended to insult or harm. I can promise you Gearbox had no such intentions with DNF, and I can also promise you that if you asked the original creators of the Duke Nukem character, they would say he is in no way a misogynist. He's a cocky, type-A womanizer, but they would never have him running around killing women just for the hell of it. A code of ethics? Probably not. But a misogynist? Being a fan of the series, I don't think I have evidence of that.
There is no subtlety in DNF but there is also no real intent. Nothing is meant to be taken literally or seriously. Occasionally, saying that is little more than a dodge when something is obviously insulting or harmful, but I don't believe that in this case. DNF never once tried to be taken seriously. It was designed to make you cringe and issue a guilty giggle every now and then. It wasn't created to mean anything. Misogyny is not only inaccurate, it's far too serious a label for the tongue-in-cheek transgressions committed by Mr. Duke Nukem. Let's protect and respect women. Let's not insult their intelligence by assuming they'll look at that game and go, "Oh my God, now I feel totally violated."
Most intelligent ladies I know would just smirk and roll their eyes, which is exactly what we're supposed to do.
9/18/2012 10:02:20 PM Ben Dutka