Friday, August 2, 2013

Fat Princess's Disturbing "Feeder" Resonance

In Anita Sarkeesian's excellent Tropes Vs Women in Video Games series, she discusses different, problematic portrayals of women in video games.  The latest episode focused, in particular, on ways in which the princess/damsel motif can be subverted, both in destructive and constructive ways.

One of the games she talked about was Fat Princess, a capture the flag + tower defense game which uses the two team's "princesses" as the flags.  That is bad enough for obvious reasons; women aren't objects, and using them as prizes or game balls is inherently misogynistic.

However, that wasn't enough for this gaming company; they wanted to fat shame too, so decided that they'd make the princess fat, and thus undesirable and difficult to carry.

Again, this would be enough for me to hate this game, to think it should be boycotted and possibly burned, to want to personally punch the game designer.

That wasn't enough for them though.  To make the game more difficult, they decided that you could make the princess even fatter, and thus harder to carry (think ten little players carrying one huge princess) by feeding her cake.

I hopefully don't have to tell anyone that showing a fat woman indiscriminately eating cake and getting bigger and bigger, and using her body as an obstacle is a grotesque combination of misogyny and fat shaming.
That's not why it gave me the feeling I have just before an anxiety attack, though, the feeling like I have needles under my skin and if I don't run away I'm going to completely lose it.

I had that feeling because I've had a partner who was a feeder.

A feeder is a man who exerts his control over a fat woman by fetishizing her eating, and by pressuring her to eat more and more unhealthy food in the hopes that she grows.  Feeders often use coercive levels of pressure to achieve this goal.  A feeder may try to convince the woman in question that she'll never find anyone else who will love her body as he does.  He may also fetishize her stomach, upper arms, or other generally non-erogenous but adipose heavy tissue.  His objectification is particularly pernicious because it isn't accompanied by positive feedback elsewhere; the world thinks fat women are gross and horrible, so it can be hard to recognize that a man who claims to "like your fat" isn't necessarily a loving and supportive partner.

Feeder erotica (and yes, I've read some; my ex had a lot of it) is focused on coercive feeding.  In their "erotic" fiction, women are tricked into gaining weight or sometimes literally force fed.  Their bodies are objects that the men who fetishize this want to possess and control.  Their ultimate fantasy is often to render a woman immobile.

Feeding also can amount to physical and economic abuse.  It is difficult for fat women to get jobs, and a woman who is immobilized or nearly so to support her partner's fetish is then completely at his mercy for everyday needs like food, toilet usage, water, shelter, etc.

 Feeders would tell you that the women who they feed consent to this, but as a woman who once "consented" to it, I can tell you that such consent is problematical.  Consent to feeding often involves elements of coercion (if you won't eat for me you don't love me), gaslighting (why wouldn't you want me to feed you; that's crazy), and other emotional abuse (If I leave you, no one else will ever want you, so you should please me).  I would argue that most women who "consent" to be fed are bullied or coerced into it, or are trying to find some way to please an unpleasable partner in an abusive relationship.

That a video game company has decided to use this abusive behavior as a mechanic is disgusting beyond belief.  Women die because of this.  Women have their lives ruined because of it.  Women take years to recover their self esteem, and longer to feel safe in a relationship, confident that they're loved for themselves and not their fat.

Some people will say "well they didn't know", but if the company couldn't manage a basic Google search, that's on them.  This game is abhorrent.  Not only will I not play it, I really don't want any contact with anyone who will.  It's that important to me.