Ladies’ Man: Womanizing in the Witcher 13

This month is Romance Month!  All of our articles in April deal with romance or relationships (or both!) in games. 


In many respects, The Witcher is an excel­lent game. I got hooked on the story almost as soon as I start­ed play­ing, and I found the com­bat sys­tem tac­ti­cal and chal­leng­ing, espe­cial­ly on Hard dif­fi­cul­ty. But I wasn’t far into the story when it became clear that The Witcher was going to be a guilty plea­sure. This real­iza­tion came when I had my first roman­tic encounter.

Now I’m not opposed to the inclu­sion of romance and sex. On the con­trary: as one of the most impor­tant aspects of human life, I think romance is actu­al­ly under-represented in games (Rob Gallagher’s arti­cle unfor­tu­nate­ly behind a pay­wall). As such, the first time a romance option came up, I wel­comed the more adult con­tent. However, exam­in­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of sex in The Witcher reveals that it is any­thing but “adult.”

The first romance scene occurs between the pro­tag­o­nist, the tit­u­lar witch­er Geralt of Rivia, and a sor­cer­ess named Triss Merigold. When Triss is injured in com­bat with a mage, Geralt must find cer­tain herbs to make a con­coc­tion to heal her. Upon doing so, and after a short rest, Triss is feel­ing well enough to want to get frisky with Geralt. Pursue the cor­rect dia­logue choic­es, and the two of them get inti­mate, safe­ly away from the cam­era. And you get a card, with a half-naked Triss on dis­play! This scene is obvi­ous­ly prob­lem­at­ic, but it is also one of the most dis­ap­point­ing in the game because Triss is actu­al­ly quite a strong female char­ac­ter. She is a very pow­er­ful sor­cer­ess, and she’s also an open­ly sex­u­al woman. Many of the NPCs even com­ment dis­parag­ing­ly on her reveal­ing attire, call­ing her a “slut,” while oth­ers claim that she is “not a real woman” because she is unable to have chil­dren. Triss brush­es these crit­i­cisms aside, unwill­ing to let oth­ers deter­mine for her what it means to be a woman. And while her char­ac­ter design is cer­tain­ly buxom, we shouldn’t take this as some­thing that dis­em­pow­ers her, lest we par­rot the NPCs in try­ing to say what a woman should look like. Given her char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, Triss is not the damsel in dis­tress which we see so often in videogames. That’s what makes the romance scene so dis­ap­point­ing: in order to set the scene, the writ­ers decid­ed to strip her of all her power, and make her the damsel in dis­tress, wait­ing to be res­cued. Far from the pow­er­ful woman she seemed, Triss is shown as no match for her male adver­sary, and must be res­cued and taken care of by men. But after the sex scene, she goes back to being a hard­core sor­cer­ess, refus­ing to live up to the ideals of oth­ers. It seems that she was tem­porar­i­ly dis­em­pow­ered just so she could be, for a brief time, that ideal woman in need of sav­ing, so that she could be seduced by our strong male pro­tag­o­nist.

If this were the only prob­lem with The Witcher’s depic­tion of romance, I might be inclined to over­look it, since there are many exam­ples of neg­a­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tions of women in games. But The Witcher is so adamant­ly sex­u­al that its sex­ism doesn’t stop with Triss. You see, Geralt isn’t a one woman type of guy. Over the course of the game, he can seduce over twen­ty female NPCs, some of whom he bare­ly talks to, and most of whom he never encoun­ters again. Many of them fol­low the damsel in dis­tress pat­tern. For exam­ple, the sec­ond woman Geralt can seduce, Vesna Hood, must first be res­cued from rapists, and then plied with wine. Others must be won over by pur­chas­ing the cor­rect type of flow­ers or jew­el­ry. Then there are the pros­ti­tutes, who can sim­ply be pur­chased. In the game, then, not only is Geralt a wom­an­iz­er, but the women he seduces are either dis­em­pow­ered vic­tims, or goods to be bought or exchanged for. In either case, women are pas­sive objects in con­trast to the active male pro­tag­o­nist. And while Triss at times breaks this mold of pas­sive fem­i­nin­i­ty, it is telling that when it is time for her to be a sex­u­al object, she imme­di­ate­ly becomes pas­sive or must be given jew­el­ry (Triss Merigold can be seduced twice over the course of the game).

This por­tray­al of romance can be under­stood as an attempt to “gam­i­fy” sex­u­al rela­tion­ships. In order to get sex from female NPCs, the play­er must do some­thing: fight ene­mies, get a spe­cial item, or choose the cor­rect dia­logue options. This approach to rela­tion­ships in games, how­ev­er, is extreme­ly prob­lem­at­ic. As Alex Raymond argues, draw­ing on Thomas Macaulay Millar, games which have these types of romance mechan­ics prop­a­gate a “com­mod­i­ty model” of sex: “sex is like a tick­et; women have it and men try to get it. Women may give it away or may trade it for some­thing valu­able, but either way it’s a trans­ac­tion.” This model of sex (as opposed to a “per­for­mance model”) is thor­ough­ly dehu­man­iz­ing, as all women are val­ued for are their bod­ies, and their abil­i­ty to give their bod­ies away. Men by con­trast have much more free­dom, being able to “exchange” a wide vari­ety of “com­modi­ties” (time, goods, socio-economic sta­tus, etc.) to get what they want.

The Witcher not only adopts this com­mod­i­ty model but extends it in the reward struc­ture for suc­cess­ful seduc­tions. I am refer­ring here to the “romance cards”: play­ing card style images which are earned from suc­cess­ful seduc­tions, and which can be viewed at any time by the play­er. Aside from lit­er­al­ly objec­ti­fy­ing women, these cards play into the gam­i­fi­ca­tion of sex: under­take a chal­lenge, over­come obsta­cles, and earn a reward which can be looked back on as tes­ta­ment to the player’s suc­cess, just like the now ubiq­ui­tous “achieve­ments.” These cards offer them­selves quite eas­i­ly to analy­ses of the “male gaze,” with female char­ac­ters made entire­ly pas­sive objects for the assumed male audi­ence to exam­ine at their leisure, pro­vid­ing scopophilic plea­sure. Instead, how­ev­er, I would like to look at how the gam­i­fi­ca­tion of sex encour­ages the play­er to adopt a misog­y­nist atti­tude when play­ing The Witcher.

Up to this point, I have omit­ted a very impor­tant fact about The Witcher: you aren’t forced to sleep with every NPC you see. I don’t know if you can fin­ish the game with­out hav­ing sex with any­one (I’ve looked online, and I haven’t found evi­dence of any­one doing this), but you cer­tain­ly don’t have to be a com­plete wom­an­iz­er. However, as Rob Gallagher argues in his essay “No Sex Please, We are Finite State Machines,” sex in games often func­tions “less as a moti­va­tion in itself than as a par­tic­u­lar way of sig­ni­fy­ing or acknowl­edg­ing play­ers’ achieve­ments” (407). It’s not that all play­ers nec­es­sar­i­ly want to see dig­i­tal pornog­ra­phy, espe­cial­ly since, as Gallagher points out, there are many sources of bet­ter qual­i­ty porno­graph­ic images read­i­ly avail­able. Rather, the play­er tries to seduce NPCs in order to get the reward, which hap­pens to be an erot­ic scene and a sex card. The real prob­lem is that the com­ple­tion­ist men­tal­i­ty (unlock all the achieve­ments, do every side quest, explore every nook and cran­ny of the map) that is encour­aged by the effort/reward struc­ture of videogames com­pels the play­er to make the avatar behave like a misog­y­nis­tic wom­an­iz­er. The play­er, in turn, is encour­aged to mimic this misog­y­ny by being pro­vid­ed with erot­ic images of Geralt’s con­quests. Combined with the dread­ful het­ero­nor­ma­tive slant of the game (there is never any hint of same-sex rela­tions), the par­a­digm of sex pre­sent­ed in the game is very prob­lem­at­ic. But it’s a par­a­digm that, because of the way it is incor­po­rat­ed into estab­lished videogame struc­tures, the play­er is dri­ven to adopt.

Perhaps the most inter­est­ing, if very ten­ta­tive, defense of The Witcher’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion of sex is that made by Justin Keverne. In his short essay on The Witcher, he pro­pos­es that, “if we want mature games in the truest sense of the word then at some point they will need to engage with themes of prej­u­dice and intol­er­ance. … [S]uch games will need to fea­ture char­ac­ters who are sex­ist, racist or oth­er­wise prej­u­diced and offen­sive. … With such a pro­tag­o­nist we will need to make use of game mechan­ics that por­tray that character’s inher­ent intol­er­ance and com­mu­ni­cate it to the play­er.” This is an excel­lent point: in being com­pelled to adopt the sex­ism of Geralt by things like the romance cards, the play­er may come to bet­ter under­stand his men­tal­i­ty, what it means, and why it is prob­lem­at­ic. Literature is not short of exam­ples where the read­er is asked to adopt the per­spec­tive of an unsa­vory pro­tag­o­nist, Lolita by Nabokov being per­haps the most famous exam­ple. The prob­lem in The Witcher how­ev­er is that at no point does Geralt ever get rep­ri­mand­ed for his atti­tude. At one point a female NPC gets angry at him, but this has more to do with not entrust­ing her with an orphaned child than with his wom­an­iz­ing behav­iour. Even after he basi­cal­ly pro­pos­es to one of his love inter­ests, he is free to sleep with whomev­er he likes and no one says any­thing. You would think that the woman to whom he has com­mit­ted him­self might get a lit­tle unhap­py when he sleeps with, well, any­one he can. But the women remain silent, and so, yet again, Geralt is free to do what he likes, while the women are pas­sive­ly per­mis­sive.

For all the rea­sons I have dis­cussed, The Witcher is to me the epit­o­me of the gam­i­fi­ca­tion of a misog­y­nist per­spec­tive. And that’s too bad, because aside from romance, there’s lots to love in The Witcher. The nar­ra­tive is com­pelling, and takes a nuanced stance on racial issues (despite the absence of non-Caucasian char­ac­ters), explor­ing issues of abjec­tion and oth­er­ing. The game­play is chal­leng­ing and tac­ti­cal. The set­ting and char­ac­ters are intrigu­ing. In tak­ing an all too sim­ple and prob­lem­at­ic approach to adult rela­tion­ships, The Witcher sells itself short, and The Witcher 2 does lit­tle to improve on the for­mu­la. This game series deserves bet­ter. Developer CD Projekt’s mar­ket­ing direc­tor recent­ly said in an inter­view with Gamespot that romance in The Witcher 3 isn’t going to be imple­ment­ed in “a Pokemon way, like ‘col­lect them all,’” which seems like a clear ref­er­ence to the first game. So maybe, hope­ful­ly, in the third install­ment, we’ll get the love sto­ries this game deserves. And I can final­ly play as Geralt of Rivia with­out feel­ing guilty about it.

Alex Duncan

About Alex Duncan

Alex Duncan is a Canadian videogame critic currently living in Bordeaux, France. He is the author of The Animist blog, where he writes about various topics concerning videogames. An English literature and economics major, he will be pursuing graduate studies in videogame design beginning this Fall.

13 thoughts on “Ladies’ Man: Womanizing in the Witcher

  • Jakkar -

    I find your atti­tude toward these char­ac­ters itself inher­ent­ly dis­crim­i­na­tive. The notion that this world has to con­form to your social norms for sex­u­al fideli­ty, monog­a­mous expec­ta­tions and so forth does­n’t seem to be sup­port­ed by the fic­tion itself.

    The idea that Triss’s injury at the hands of a pow­er­ful adver­sary ‘weak­ens’ her, mak­ing her avail­able for sex via a damsel-in-distress sce­nario is unpleas­ant­ly judge­men­tal. I can’t help but won­der when, in your ideal world, a female char­ac­ter IS per­mit­ted to desire sex with an old flame, if not in a com­fort­able bed, grate­ful for his sup­port, fol­low­ing a trau­mat­ic event for both, the loss of a friend, and a mutu­al recov­ery from wounds sus­tained in the pro­logue?

    The world depicts horny tav­ern wench­es flirt­ing with a mys­te­ri­ous guest, empow­ered self-governing pros­ti­tutes employ­ing a non-human, ster­ile mer­ce­nary to elim­i­nate a threat, then offers sex rather than coin as reward, IF he wants it… A com­mod­i­ty they trade com­fort­ably, daily. Females of numer­ous species wish­ing to cou­ple with an inter­est­ing and pow­er­ful char­ac­ter who depicts an intel­li­gent mind and unusu­al morals and can actu­al­ly con­verse with them in depth, unlike the rather provin­cial, dis­crim­i­na­tive and crude atti­tudes held by the major­i­ty of cul­tures in the peri­od…

    It’s unde­ni­ably a world pop­u­lat­ed by sex­ist char­ac­ters and with a sex­ist cul­ture but I do not see the sex­ism in the main char­ac­ter, or the game’s design. A sex­u­al­ly lib­er­at­ed het­ero­sex­u­al male pro­tag­o­nist with a vari­ety of poten­tial part­ners and a pref­er­ence for infor­mal polyamory is inevitably going to ruf­fle some feath­ers, but I don’t feel the game pro­vides evi­dence to deliv­er an accu­sa­tion of sex­ism, and cer­tain­ly not misog­y­ny on the part of the pro­tag­o­nist, the design­ers or the orig­i­nal writer. The fact he CAN have sex with a wide vari­ety of char­ac­ters does not indi­cate that he is intend­ed to by the design­ers of the game in a given playthrough. I never knew it was so many — I think I noticed around five to ten. No more than one is intend­ed to com­plete every quest line in Fallout is one intend­ed to sex every woman in Vizima.

    A sand­box RPG per­mits ram­pant vio­lence and per­ver­si­ty, sus­tained kind­ness, or ghost-like stealth and unin­volve­ment per the play­er’s tastes. A semi-linear RPG with a pre­made char­ac­ter lim­its player-choice to a defined direc­tion if not a sin­gle path, but remains a moral maze. What a play­er does via Geralt in a sin­gle playthrough tells us more about the play­er than the game, I feel.

    The absence of same-sex rela­tion­ships on the other hand is some­thing of a lapse, but as the pro­tag­o­nist, as writ­ten in the nov­els, is het­ero­sex­u­al and the other char­ac­ters of the world are by no means oblig­at­ed to share their pri­vate lives with the pro­tag­o­nist, it did­n’t strike me as uncom­fort­able. I’d strong­ly sus­pect Geralt’s clos­est friend is sex­u­al­ly open-minded, based upon his dia­logue in both books and game, though…

    *pon­ders* And, report­ed­ly, the char­ac­ter Triss her­self is com­fort­ably bisex­u­al in the books.

    I digress, and lose inter­est in the rant, I con­fess.

    I find your arti­cle indi­cates a mind already made up before you began your assess­ment, a lack of evi­dence and cita­tion for your claims, and regard many of your state­ments as mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions. I found The Witcher to be a refresh­ing­ly open-minded take upon sex­u­al­i­ty in terms of rela­tion­ship struc­tures and female agency in sex­u­al­i­ty. Far from per­fect, but *inter­est­ing*, and that’s what I’m look­ing for in a game… Thought-provoking sur­pris­es and dif­fi­cult char­ac­ters, the kind of moral con­fu­sion that pro­vokes arti­cles and respons­es like these.

    Well done, The Witcher. If only you weren’t badly bro­ken after that unbear­ably repet­i­tive swamp area, and if only the end­ing made sense…

    • higgsbosoff

      The notion that this world has to con­form to your social norms for sex­u­al fideli­ty, monog­a­mous expec­ta­tions and so forth doesn’t seem to be sup­port­ed by the fic­tion itself.”

      Well, that can be argued with though. The set­ting is, in many ways, rem­i­nis­cent of Middle Ages Europe. There’s a Reverend who clear­ly acts like a Christian priest; the word “slut” is used as an insult; there’s even a speech about women being the source of all evils due to their unnat­ur­al desires and car­nal lust when the angry mob of witch-hunters comes at Abigail’s cave. That’s all very much like OUR world. Why would call­ing a woman “slut” make sense if in this world polygamy was the norm? Why would they even have mar­riage as we know it? It would indeed be a very inter­est­ing kind of fan­ta­sy one which did­n’t just throw elves, dwarves and magic into the mix but which also invent­ed an entire­ly dif­fer­ent social struc­ture from the ground up, but that does­n’t seem to be the case here.

      • Jakkar -

        Ello HiggsBosoff — my ref­er­ence isn’t to how the soci­ety of Vizima react to the pro­tag­o­nist and major char­ac­ters, but to their inter­ac­tions amongst them­selves, to put it sim­ply.

        Major magic users in this world are more often female than male, and tend to be extreme­ly pow­er­ful — they’re free of easy judge­ment or con­trol. The Dryad in the game, too, is unbe­hold­en to the norms of the young human soci­ety in this world. The elves, the witch, and so on; the major­i­ty of Geralt’s poten­tial roman­tic and sex­u­al part­ners in the game are quite pow­er­ful beings, indi­vid­u­al­ists inde­pen­dent of ‘ordi­nary soci­ety’ or the con­ven­tions of any given civil­i­sa­tion or fac­tion.

        They make a choice to part­ner with anoth­er ‘out­sider’, the player-character Geralt, and I felt the writer of this arti­cle exhib­it­ed clear per­son­al dis­com­fort with this fact — or at least, a fail­ure to under­stand it.

        You’re cor­rect, human soci­ety in this set­ting is by no means very lib­er­al, but that’s one of the key themes of the work; humans have recent­ly arrived in this world by mag­i­cal means, spread, bred, sub­ju­gat­ed the native races and gen­er­al­ly made a mess of things — their con­ser­v­a­tive, judge­men­tal crusading/abuse and exploita­tion of one-another and other species is com­pa­ra­ble to our world because, as far as I can tell from my read­ing of the author’s works in this world, they’re hint­ed as actu­al­ly being from our world.

        They are us.

        Geralt, how­ev­er, is a hybrid, a prod­uct of this world’s magic and strange tech­nol­o­gy, and there­fore a pari­ah — accept­ed by natives and other hybrids as a fel­low reject, out­sider. Something unusu­al, and per­haps spe­cial and wor­thy of note.

  • Jakkar -

    Rereading this with a female friend well read in sex­u­al­i­ty, gen­der equal­i­ty and alter­na­tive rela­tion­ship sys­tems, we’re stunned by your inabil­i­ty to see Triss’ char­ac­ter as strong *dur­ing* her indul­gence in sex­u­al­i­ty. She defends her friends, none of whom are as pow­er­ful as her, is injured in the ser­vice of her allies, is sub­se­quent­ly healed by the efforts of her grate­ful friends, and invites one of them into her bed with casu­al con­fi­dence.

    That IS Triss being a strong char­ac­ter. It isn’t the fail­ure of her strength or some hasty rewrite to ’empow­er’ the male pro­tag­o­nist. Are you unable to observe a female char­ac­ter exhib­it free will and agency in sex­u­al­i­ty with­out feel­ing she’s some­how being exploit­ed? Your writ­ing reeks of the inse­cure ‘fem­i­nist white knight’, leap­ing to the defense of the fem­i­nine ideal that *does not need to be defend­ed*.

    • Jakkar -

      All this talk of seduc­tion, these inac­cu­rate sug­ges­tions that Geralt can sim­ply pick these females — more often, the female char­ac­ters select Geralt, and declare their intent. I was most sur­prised by how sub­mis­sive Geralt could be, occa­sion­al­ly even wrong-footed by the smirk­ing for­ward­ness of the pow­er­ful female char­ac­ters who peri­od­i­cal­ly take an inter­est in him.

      • Alex Duncan

        Jakkar, I am sorry for the delay in reply­ing to your lengthy com­ment. I did­n’t check my post often after it was pub­lished, and I was­n’t noti­fied via email that there were com­ments made on the essay.

        First of all, while you clear­ly did­n’t great­ly enjoy my essay, I am happy that you took the time to respond to it. I am always open to crit­i­cism, and you have made some good points.

        That said, I dis­agree with some of your cri­tiques, espe­cial­ly that I am pro­mot­ing tra­di­tion­al monog­a­mous rela­tion­ships. I am not claim­ing that Geralt (or any­one else) needs to be monog­a­mous, I’m only com­ment­ing on the approach made to polygamy in the game, one which entails a clear power rela­tion­ship which favours the male. Take the rela­tion­ship between Triss and Geralt, or Shani and Geralt. In both of these rela­tion­ships, there is never a hint of polyamory on the part of the female par­tic­i­pant, where­as Geralt is free to sleep with other women with­out it even being brought up. If the char­ac­ters were ever shown dis­cussing this, and agree­ing on polyamory, I would be fine with that. Conversely, if either of the women were por­trayed pur­su­ing other men, that’s fine too. But in the game (I haven’t read the nov­els) there is never any hint of this, which makes polyamory exclu­sive­ly male ter­ri­to­ry. This, I would say (and per­haps should have includ­ed in the essay), implies that a woman should­n’t be sex­u­al­ly active with more than one part­ner (i.e. should be monog­a­mous), while it is per­fect­ly accept­able for a man to be polyg­a­mous.

        As for play­er choice: you are per­fect­ly cor­rect in say­ing that the play­er does­n’t have to pur­sue the romance options. What I tried to argue in the essay is that the play­er is encour­aged to do so by the reward struc­ture of the romance cards. And you are also absolute­ly right about games of this kind being a moral maze, bal­anc­ing the play­er’s beliefs with those of the pro­tag­o­nist. What makes it inter­est­ing to me is the way the play­er is dri­ven to adopt a cer­tain atti­tude due to the game’s mechan­ics. But, if you did­n’t feel the romance cards worked in this way, that is a fair argu­ment to make, and I would be inter­est­ed in hear­ing your take on the mechan­ic.

        The last thing I would like to dis­cuss is Triss. Triss is a very inter­est­ing char­ac­ter, who, as I say in the essay, is a strong woman, and who embraces her sex­u­al­i­ty.

        I think you’re look­ing at the roman­tic encounter between Geralt and Triss in iso­la­tion. What wor­ries me more is that it is part of a pat­tern, where­in the women Geralt sleeps with are shown in a moment of weak­ness or dis­tress just before the roman­tic encounter. Another instance of this is Abigail, anoth­er strong female char­ac­ter. But when Geralt sleeps with her, she is at her most vul­ner­a­ble and is in dan­ger of being lynched by a mob. I think a good ques­tion to ask is why could­n’t there have been a romance option with Triss or Abigail before these moments of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty? Why choose these spe­cif­ic moments to make a romance scene? It isn’t that it is some­how wrong for a woman to have sex with some­one at a moment like that, but when it becomes a pat­tern, I think it war­rants inter­ro­ga­tion.

        You make an inter­est­ing point about Geralt some­times being taken advan­tage of by female char­ac­ters, and that is def­i­nite­ly food for thought.

        Again, thank you for your com­ments, though I am a lit­tle puz­zled about the rather per­son­al tone of some of your crit­i­cism. I don’t think of myself as a fem­i­nist white knight: I sim­ply found a topic in a game that inter­est­ed me, and the con­tent of that topic hap­pened to involve dis­cus­sions of sex­ism and sex­u­al­i­ty. My other writ­ing isn’t focused on these themes, and I am cer­tain­ly not on any kind of cru­sade.

  • Persephone

    I think you’re falling unwit­ting­ly into the patri­ar­chal notion that is unfor­tu­nate­ly preva­lent in Western soci­ety that while it is per­fect­ly fit­ting for a woman to be sexy, or to dis­play her sex­u­al attrac­tive­ness, it is inher­ent­ly demean­ing for her to ever be sex­u­al, or actu­al­ly, you know,*have sex*. Freely cho­sen, con­sen­su­al sex does not auto­mat­i­cal­ly dis­em­pow­er a woman, and I am peturbed by your inabil­i­ty to see any of these instances of sex (many of which come about at the express sug­ges­tion of the females in ques­tion) as any­thing other than ‘seduc­tion’.

    Furthermore, your dis­mis­sive atti­tudes about sex work are per­pet­u­at­ing cul­tur­al stig­ma – IIRC, the sex work­ers in the game are func­tion­al­ly Unionised, and as such, act­ing with as much agency as any other work­er of any pro­fes­sion. Sex work is work, and no more deserv­ing of auto­mat­ic sham­ing than any other job.

    I also think you need to do some read­ing about Polyamory/Ethical non-monogamy before dis­miss­ing the prac­tice as inher­ent­ly oppres­sive to women (in real­i­ty, most polyamorous com­mu­ni­ties slant strong­ly Feminist, as do a great many of the sem­i­nal writ­ers on the sub­ject). Your assump­tion that women will auto­mat­i­cal­ly desire/require exclu­siv­i­ty more close­ly fits the Evo-Psych rant­i­ngs of MRA’s than any­thing resem­bling Feminist dis­course.

    To be com­plete­ly hon­est, this piece leaves me with the impres­sion of a long drawn out apol­o­gy for your own unex­am­ined pred­ju­dices, and resul­tant awkward-patriarchy-boner – methinks you need to edu­cate your­self fur­ther on the mat­ters you are dis­cussing, given that you views fre­quent­ly run con­trary to the inter­ests of the var­i­ous dis­ad­van­taged groups you are dis­cussing in their absence, and fur­ther­more check your god­damn priv­iledge.

    • Bill Coberly
      Bill Coberly

      This (and Jakkar’s trio of com­ments above) feels need­less­ly vin­dic­tive, and also kinda miss­es Alex’s point, that the Witcher treats women like com­modi­ties: some­thing to be pur­chased or earned. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly trou­bling in the con­text of those “romance cards” the game offers you — tro­phies for suc­cess­ful­ly con­quer­ing a woman. Further, while “eth­i­cal non-monogamy” may be a valid way of liv­ing, it’s my under­stand­ing that you have to talk to your partner(s) first, rather than just assum­ing they are total­ly down with you bang­ing whomev­er you please. While I haven’t played the game in ques­tion, Alex sug­gests that no such con­ver­sa­tion hap­pens. And half a sen­tence about how there are also pros­ti­tutes in the game from whom one can pur­chase sex does not nec­es­sar­i­ly demean the pro­fes­sion.

      • loiathal

        I con­fess I did­n’t find quite as many prob­lems with The Witcher’s treat­ment of sex as Alex or Bill did, most­ly because I found the delib­er­ate con­flat­ing of the assumed play­er’s desire to “col­lect all cards” with the Witcher’s con­stant­ly men­tioned past as a wom­an­iz­er pret­ty clever. That said, treat­ing sex­u­al part­ners as tro­phies through the romance card sys­tem is pret­ty obvi­ous­ly sex­ist, regard­less of the indi­vid­ual char­ac­ters pref­er­ences– the issue isn’t real­ly (to me), how the char­ac­ters han­dle them­selves, but the way the game views the char­ac­ters.

        And no, Triss and Geralt never dis­cuss monogamy, or lack there­of. You can assume they have that con­ver­sa­tion off-screen (other con­ver­sa­tions cer­tain­ly do, although I never found any rea­son to assume Triss’s tem­per would be cool with it), but there’s no real rea­son to make that leap.

    • Alex Duncan

      Thank you for your com­ment, Persephone, and as with Jakkar, I apol­o­gize for the tar­di­ness of my reply. That said, I am utter­ly con­fused by the tone of per­son­al attack in your com­ment. As far as I know, we have never met, and I don’t think you have any right accus­ing me of demean­ing sex work­ers or of being against polyamory. Criticizing my essay is fine. Accusing me of being per­son­al­ly against a whole slew of com­plex top­ics is going a bit far.

      As I said to Jakkar, it is not polyamory itself which is prob­lem­at­ic in the game. It is rather that it is com­plete­ly one-sided in favour of the man. There is never any indi­ca­tion that Triss or Shani have rela­tion­ships with any­one aside from Geralt, and, as Bill says, there is never any dis­cus­sion of polyamory in the rela­tion­ship.

      As for sex work­ers, I think you’re stretch­ing my argu­ment a bit far to find that I am active­ly against the trade.

    • TheDudeAbides

      You fool. Having free sex is, in fact, the most dis­em­pow­er­ing thing a woman can do, aside from get­ting raped. Not to say she should­n’t be allowed to do it. But none shall deny imposed roles. To do so would be to counter truth, and to counter truth is to be unrea­son­able. Fuck off with your fem­i­nist non­sense.

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