Why Bayonetta Is One Of My Favorite Women In Gaming

You know you’re doing the “seduction by lollipop” cliche right when you look like your doing the candy a favor.
Source: Know Your Meme

Ah, screw it. I’m counting this as a Halloween post. I mean, what’s more Halloween than a witch?

So, true to my nature as being infinitely late to the party, I’m just now starting to get into Bayonetta. I picked it up at a reasonable sale price on Steam and I’ll admit openly that I may have had the game wrong all these years. I wrote it off as just ‘Devil May Cry with boobs’ and thought it was just senseless titillation for titillation’s sake. But the more I played it, the more I came to realize that, while it does delve into gratuitousness quite often, it does so in such an over-the-top way as to stop being sexy and start being entertaining on its own merits.

Plus, I’ve come to have genuine affection of the titular Bayonetta herself. I actually feel kind of bad for writing her off as pure fanservice. Because when you actually look at her closely, you come to realize that…

Her exaggerated figure actually makes sense

One of the first things I noticed back when I decided to give Bayonetta a miss was how silly her proportions were. I mean, the first thing most people notice when they see her is that she has legs like stilts propping up a torso that’s just a cup size or two shy from being a Rob Liefeld drawing.

But once you see her interacting with “normal” human beings (normal being subjective in such a strange setting), you realize that she’s not some average, everyday superheroine; she’s a 7 foot tall, supernatural amazon witch bred of two warring factions of magic users and molded to be a perfect fighting engine. Of course her body would be an exaggeration of our own – extreme conditions result in extreme personalities and extreme appearances. Those legs NEED to be that powerful-looking so she doesn’t collapse on herself like a top-heavy Barbie doll.

Plus, she’s not just a pair of legs. Look at her delicate facial features and long, swan-like neck. Everything about her is meant to convey grace and class. And when you consider the main mechanic of the game is to make a long string of unbroken attacks in rapid, flowing succession, those are good qualities to have.

Still, there’s no denying that Bayonetta is still heavily sexualized. But, in her case, that’s actually a good thing because…

She knows she’s sexy… and she LOVES it

A large part of my recent journey through gender transition has been building up a positive body image by appreciating the sensuality of my body. Of course, when you work at a rest stop and have a horde of lonely truckers and construction workers – male, female, and otherwise – reminding you of that sensuality on a weekly basis, you tend to enjoy the attention (even though they should REALLY not be doing that to someone who’s on the clock; that’s just rude).

My point is that I’ve learned that flirting can be fun and can make you feel good when done right. And Bayonetta embodies this idea. A lot of people have criticized her for ‘moving like a stripper’ in game, but she always makes it clear that she does so by her own choice (“As long as there’s music, I’ll keep on dancing”). Besides, what’s wrong with erotic dancing anyway? It’s a perfectly noble art that requires years of training and conditioning to do well. I respect anyone with the physical fortitude and self-confidence to perform stark-naked like that for an audience.

And before any of you bring up her “wicked weave”, yes, the fact that her hair is both her costume and her most powerful weapon does lend itself to fanservice. But screw that; if I had a magical updo, you better believe I’d use it for some new wardrobes (“I can’t help it if I like the little outfits”).

She’s one of the few women that work the “sexuality as a weapon” angle well

Here’s the thing you need to understand about depictions of women in games; for the longest time, there were only two flavors of women.

The first is the cutesy one – small, meek, and gentle. She’s the sort of girl that’s designed to encourage you to want to protect her; i.e., “She just needs a big, strong person around.”

The other is the ice queen – hard, tough, and mostly disinterested in others; ESPECIALLY romantic advances. Whether intentional or not, it reassures the audience that it’s okay to think she’s hot because she doesn’t care anyway.

Both of these are (god, I hate this word…) problematic as one puts the woman on a pedestal and the other outright objectifies her. So how does Bayonetta approach this dilemma?

Bayonetta is not helpless; she can take down entire armies of the most powerful beings in Heaven, Earth, and Hell with ease. But, she’s not cold either; she displays a wide variety of emotions throughout the game and cares a great deal about her own personal enjoyment in particular. This results in a personality that is eager to find pleasure but is skeptical that YOU are the one that can provide it.

Do you get it yet? She’s not a cute princess, nor is she an ice queen; she’s SEXUALLY INTIMIDATING and you, aroused audience member lost in the fantasy, need to cope with that.

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Protein Princesses: 3 Awesome Muscle Women In Fiction

Now, I know that a lot of you are expecting some kind of reflection on the election. But, I’m not doing that. I make it a point in politics to not complain about people regardless of what I personally think of them as I feel the REAL problem is in the mechanics of government. And since I’ve already made my point on that front, I’m not going to repeat myself (Side note: I did actually break my own rule and vote this year in a vain attempt to demonstrate the problems with the system so I have every right to complain).

Besides, I promised happier topics last week and I intend on delivering. So, let’s talk body positivity.

As some of you may have known/guessed by now, I’m pretty big on the idea that your size, shape, color, etc. doesn’t define you as a person. As a result, I get a lot of stories about men and women taking pride in their various forms.

But you know what story I almost never see? Women proud to be built like battleships.

There’s almost no talk about body image pride among muscular, athletic women. And that saddens me because I can think of tons of buff ladies that I admire. Ladies like…

Pvt. Jenette Vasquez

There’s something beautifully satisfying about the image of a comparatively small person with an over-sized gun…
Source: opensketchbook.tumblr.com

Aliens was the first time in my life that I was given the idea that a woman could be just as much (or more) of an ass-kicking titan of awesome as any man. But, in an odd twist, it wasn’t Ellen Ripley that I gravitated to. That honor went to Private Vasquez.

Ripley may have been the hero in the end, but I always felt like she was cowed by the machismo of the Marines. Not so with Vasquez; She took it all in stride and constantly proved that she could dish out whatever others gave her – as evidenced by her most famous retort.

Sure, she errs on the side of the butch stereotype, but she makes it clear that it’s her choice to be who she is and she owns it every step of the way.

Jennifer Walters; The She-Hulk

These muscles were forged in justice. Source: TV Tropes

These muscles were forged in justice.
Source: TV Tropes

An obvious choice, I’ll admit. But you don’t get as big (no pun intended) as She-Hulk without good reason.

See, Jen isn’t just a pretty face and/or mounds of muscle – she’s also quite brilliant. Remember, when she’s not running with The Avengers or subbing for The Thing on The Fantastic Four, she serves justice the old fashioned way as an expert defense attorney.

Basically, she will always be loved as long as she remains the proof that you can have brains, beauty, and brawn in one glorious green package.

Bismuth

There's nothing like the feeling of a satisfied customer. Source: Steven Univerce Wiki

There’s nothing like the feeling of a satisfied customer.
Source: Steven Universe Wiki

Have I mentioned my Steven Universe obsession yet? I feel like I may have brought it up at some point.

Firstly, to all of the Jasper fans out there, yes; technically the Big Buff Cheeto Puff qualifies for this list with her 80’s glamazon image. but I’m not counting her because, as a character, she’s not very sympathetic to me and has rejected every chance for redemption. Remember, this list is about RESPECTABLE muscle women.

Bismuth, on the other head, is a great example of a sympathetic antagonist. She’s not truly vicious and obsessed with strength and control like Jasper, she’s simply misguided in her attempts to protect the ones she loves. Once you get past that, you can see that the biggest muscle on her is her own heart.

Add to that that she’s a steel worker and a blacksmith – labor that is traditionally considered to be “men’s work” – and she’s a great role model that teaches us to, in her words, “… choose to do whatever [you want].”

We’ve only seen her a handful of times so far, but I look forward to doing BISMUTH with her again in future episodes.