Games:
Misogyny in Fantasy Imagery

At Arduin.com, home of the coolest RPG book ever, there was a write-up for a she-demon. The she-demon poses as a beautiful woman, seduces her victim (a man), and then, as he climaxes, turns into a monster, bites his genitals off, and kills him. She actually bites the genitals off with her "second mouth." Is this misogyny? It portrays women as cold-hearted, deceptive creatures that hate and destroy men. Seems pretty misogynistic.

So imagine that the she-demon were a he-demon. As his victim (a woman) climaxed, his member would turn into a spear, and he'd impale the victim. Would that be misogyny? It would portray women as victims of horrific sexual violence. Seems pretty misogynistic.

I ran into the same problem years ago when creating a scenario for Call of Cthulhu. A man was secretly and undead monster and his wife was clueless. I realized that this set-up made the man the important character and the woman a stupid bystander. So I switched the sexes of the characters, at which point the woman became a deceptive monster and the man her victim. That didn't look good, either. (That's when I started determining the sexes of my nonplayer-characters randomly.)

How can two opposite things both be misogyny? If one's misogyny, why isn't its opposite misandry?

It must be that the "misogyny" exists in the minds of the reader, in my mind and yours, not in the content itself.

Imagine a culture where the first demon example (she-demon emasculating a man) would be seen as misandry. "It plays to the violent imaginations of women," masculinists would say. And the second demon example (he-demon impales woman) would also be seen as misandry, portraying men as predatory and penises as lethal.

Since this hypothetical culture's interpretation is as valid as ours, we conclude that there's nothing inherently or essentially misogynistic about the two fictional monsters.

Does that mean that the she-demon isn't "really" misogyny?

—JoT
December 2001

Nick
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Vincent
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