Men and women fighting in fiction (especially visual): drawing the line?

On one hand, it’s easy to overreact to stuff like this.

On the other hand, I do wonder if depictions like this over time affect a person’s attitude on violence toward women. There is a subset of nerds that seem to have a strange contempt for women and obsess over violence and rape in media. Sometimes I wonder if these types of nerds would exist in a vacuum, or its the media they obsess over which influences and reinforces their attitudes.

The other day I watched the pilot for the new JJ Abrams show, “Believe”. It depicted a thin and small badass female contract killer. The male lead is all “I don’t hit women” only to get his ass handed back to him.

Now, pretty unrealistic, sure, but it’s interesting that the audience is supposed to find his initial refusal to hit back silly and outdated.

This is a bit of a hijack, but a while back a friend of mine said something I thought was interesting about the trend towards more women in action roles in TV and movies. She said she didn’t really like it, because the message she was getting from this wasn’t so much “Women are powerful!” as “Here’s yet another thing women who look like supermodels can do…and women who look like you cannot.”

You still get occasional examples of chase scenes where it cuts between the bad guy in trainers sprinting away, and the heroine sort of trotting along in heels.
Every time this happens, you know she will catch him :slight_smile:

WRT the card, yes it’s poorly-judged. It’s of course a sensitive topic, and it’s no use saying they’re gods or whatever when they are visually identical to a very strong human male and a fit, but petite, human female. Also there is no hypocrisy in there being cards showing woman on male violence; some things aren’t symmetrical that way.

Melissa McCarthy plays a pretty good throat punching, testicle wrenching, headbutting dynamo in her films and she’s quite the heffalump.

I don’t get it. Let’s suppose the card really was depicting a helpless woman being attacked by a brutish man. So what?

There are many, many, many Magic cards that depict people getting stabbed, engulfed in flame, eviscerated, or otherwise violently killed. Many, many others show non-lethal forms of violence against a wide variety of people, non-people, and inanimate objects. In none of these cases have I ever heard anybody give a damn about the depicted violence.

Is it only attractive female victims that brings this out in people? Is a scene where a helpless victim of the night has been literally eviscerated in “good taste”, but a scene showing simply the potential for violence (and not the result) is not?

The difference is simply whether it is a significant social issue or not.

If dropping giant turtles on people was something that frequently happened in the real world, then you’d have to tread carefully depicting it in a card.
Or, to give a less far-fetched scenario, if there was a card showing, say, someone throwing acid in the face of a beautiful woman, that too would cause controversy because it a real issue, particularly in certain parts of the world.

Now I do think it’s a freedom of speech issue and you can depict whatever you like in a card. But, the makers have to accept that if something looks too close to a sensitive real-world issue, they’re going to piss a lot of people off, who will boycott them, and write angry facebook pages and whatever. It’s their choice.

Yes, indeed.

Different clears throat communities have different takes on whether this is “outdated”. Where I live and where I’m from it is far from being outdated, and I would say it has at least a couple of generations left in it. Think of it as an old family car that won’t die–a Dodge Dart perhaps.

The makers of the cards are in a no-win situation. If men and women are equal, overall, then they’ll both be fighting in some way or another. Both will be fighting on either side of any given conflict, which means they’ll sometimes be fighting each other. And if they sometimes fight each other, sometimes the man will win. Any depiction of this is going to resemble real-world gender-based violence to at least some degree.

On the other hand, if you want to avoid this, then ultimately you have to posit that men and women aren’t equal, and that brings its own host of problems.

In the end, I think that Wizards of the Coast and their artists made the right decision here: It would be worse to show Garruck and Lilliana never fighting each other, or to show Lilliana always winning, or any other alternative.

What about the alternative of showing a man defeating a woman without making it look like she’s about to be raped? I only played Magic a few times about 20 years ago so I can’t claim much familiarity with the card artwork, but I would be very surprised if the typical “man fighting a man” card depicts one of the men on his back, with his skimpy clothing in disarray, while the other, much larger man is standing over him and forcing his legs apart. If violence against women is presented in a sexualized manner while violence against men is not, then that’s not depicting men and women as equals.

I’ll grant that it probably is difficult to depict a man overpowering a woman who’s wearing a low-cut, see-through corset dress with a slit skirt, thigh-high boots, and a garter belt without this violence seeming the teensiest bit sexualized…but there is an obvious solution to that problem.

There are cards that depict punching, kicking, general bullying, torture, mutilation, and other forms of violence. I think these all count as significant social issues.

I understand that human beings in the real world are not killed by dragon’s fire or magic lightning bolts. But they are tortured, killed in battle, mutilated, punched, stabbed, kicked, or otherwise violently violated. Even ignoring the cards depicting fantastic means of violence, there are still plenty that show violence that can and does take place in the real world every day.

In addition, I think it’s strange to look at the abstract situation depicted on “Triumph of Ferocity” but to focus on the details of other cards depicting violence or the threat of violence. The card depicts two people dressed a particular way, outside in the rain, near a boulder or mound, while one of them has something glowing in her hand. That exact situation has probably not occurred. But of course the objection is not to the specifics - it’s about the more general characteristics: A large, brutish man about to pummel a much smaller (and apparently helpless) woman. Yet a card depicting a man getting stabbed with a sword isn’t being viewed as a general case of a man being violently killed (either in combat or otherwise). Instead, it’s viewed as not relevant to the real world because people don’t use swords anymore. I think it’s more fair to be consistent and view depictions of violence at the same general level of abstraction.

The scenario has to be more specific than just “punching and kicking” – those aren’t social problems in and of themselves. As for bullying, torture and mutilation…show me the cards – I can certainly conceive of drawings of those that people would find offensive. Certainly a waterboarding card would be in bad taste.

And this gets us to the crux of it:
Trying to follow your argument through, I think what you’re trying to say is why do we find this example of violence more offensive than other examples that would in real life be more painful or harmful?
The answer is that the offensiveness is not mainly concerned with how severe the action looks but how much like a real-world problem it looks.

Imagine you had 9 cards depicting people being killed by magic. And a tenth card showing someone kicking a chained up, cowering, dog. Card #10 is in some senses the most tame but of course it’s the one most likely to cause offense. (and it doesn’t especially help to say “oh, it’s a magic dog”)

I’m pretty sure it is about the specifics. The woman is on her back, her skirt has been pushed aside, and the man’s thigh is shoving her legs apart. These details are evocative of a sexual assault, which I don’t believe is the kind of thing normally depicted on Magic cards.

I just Googled the “Triumph of Ferocity” controversy, and as far as I can tell the objection some people had to this card was indeed that it looked like a sexual assault and not merely that it looked like a man was about to punch a woman in the face. Both critics of the card and those who took a different view (like this blogger and this blogger) all seemed to agree that the issue was the resemblance to sexual assault perceived by some.

I guess I don’t see how it looks any more like a real world problem than many other cards. People don’t dress like that, only a tiny percentage of the population is as freakishly large as he is, and nobody can make their hand glow with magic like she is doing. Yes, the basic elements are there, but the basic elements of, say, murder are also present in other cards, even if the style of dress and implement of murder are unusual. Murder and torture are real-world problems.

I don’t think a waterboarding card should be considered any worse than a card depicting a rack, an iron maiden, or thumbscrews. I know that it would almost certainly raise more of an uproar; I just don’t think it deserves to. For the most part I’m offended by actual violence, not fictional depictions of violence.

I don’t think the alleged sexual aspect changes anything. Let’s say that the card was deliberately showing an attempted sexual assault. While I don’t think that would add anything to the game, I also don’t think it’s any worse than the depictions of brutal murder and torture that appear on many cards.

But I should clarify something. Wizards of the Coast probably made the correct business decision when they said that the card art went too far. They want people who play the game to have fun, not feel somewhat uncomfortable - regardless of their reasons why. As such, I don’t have a problem with their stance. I want the game to last a long time, and to continue to grow in popularity.

I don’t think that American society really has a problem with failing to recognize that murder is a serious crime, that it is very bad when it happens in real life, and that it’s generally not cool to blame the victim for being murdered. We have unfortunately not reached that point with sexual assault…especially when the victim could be characterized as not being a “Nice Girl”.

None of that shows that this card is less, or equally, reminiscent of a real-world problem than other cards.

If I draw a card showing a man about to punch a child, and the child is cowering and trying to block, do you agree that some people would find that offensive? And do you agree it would make virtually no difference if in the background there was a dragon, say?

For the reasons I’ve already given it would be considered offensive. Otherwise, what is your explanation? Even if you think people are hypocrites, why do you think they are behaving like that here?

Also note, your two points don’t fit well together. First you were saying that the card includes other-worldly elements; tacitly agreeing that how close the image looks to a real-world scenario is a significant factor.
Now you’re saying it shouldn’t matter if a card shows a specific real-world scenario.

Welcome to movies - very few men look like action movie stars either, and no one can do most of what they do. No one wants to watch “action movies” that consist of boring ordinary people doing boring ordinary things.

Agreed on both points. Some people would find that offensive, and it wouldn’t make a difference if there was a superficial fantasy element.

I guess my explanation, to the extent that I have one, is that some people are being hypocritical. They’re behaving like that because that’s how humans often work. The specific reasons for this specific hypocrisy I don’t claim to understand. My point is that this isn’t justified - at least not that I can see.

Huh? No.

Some elements of the art of some cards resemble real-world violent situations. Some elements of the art of most cards contain a non-real element. I contend that we should be consistent in our level of abstraction. If we ignore the fantasy elements in the art of one card and focus on the general action or object depicted, then we should do the same for the arts of other cards.

For example, the general action depicted on “Triumph of Ferocity” is an imminent beating. There are quasi-Medieval fantasy elements, but let’s ignore those for the moment. Now consider a card showing a cross-bow sniper killing someone. (I can’t think of such a card off the top of my head, but it’s certainly the type of card that easily could be printed. If you disagree with this specific point, please let me know.) Snipers are a real threat to soldiers around the world. True, they don’t usually use crossbows, but if we ignore the fantasy element of the first card and focus on the general act, we can do the same here. This leaves us with something like, “a sniper is killing someone from a vantage point”. Since I don’t generally have a problem with fictional violence, the fact that snipers really do kill people in real life isn’t relevant here (to me). I obviously have a problem with actual snipers killing actual people in the real world.

Likewise, I have a problem with people (men or women) resolving differences by beating other people up (men or women). But fictional depictions of this don’t generally bother me.

This thread isn’t asking about people like you who aren’t bothered by this card, though. The OP acknowledges that some people objected to the “Triumph of Ferocity” card and asks if/how one could depict a man and woman fighting in fiction without causing offense. Saying that no one should be bothered by fantasy violence on a Magic card or that it’s hypocritical to object to some violent images but not others isn’t answering that question.

As far as I can tell the only reason anyone was bothered by the “Triumph of Ferocity” card was because they thought it looked like a sexual assault, so the whole controversy probably could have been avoided if the artist had posed the two characters a little differently.