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Thread: New study links sexualized avatars to rape culture.

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    New study links sexualized avatars to rape culture.

    So I just saw this article and read through it (yes I know it is Buzzfeed but it links to the study's pdf) though I haven't had the chance to read the 9 page pdf file that Stanford put together yet.

    Article:
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernst...-game-and-rape
    PDF:
    http://vhil.stanford.edu/pubs/2013/f...ual-selves.pdf

    Essentially they are saying that women who wore an Occulus Rift and looked at their face on a sexualized avatar were more likely to express "blaming the victim" views on rape culture. I for the life of me cannot understand the logical connection between the two, but maybe the pdf will shine some light on how they came to that conclusion.

    I will read the pdf later, but right now I have to leave work and I wanted to get this posted here to get your opinions/reactions as well before I run out the door. I'll check in later and give my two cents worth.

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    In.

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    #bringbackrapeculture2015 Nihil's Avatar
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    Couldn't they just look in a mirror and see what huge sluts they were? I don't get it.

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    First 4 replies are your average FP shit. Maybe Rev was right?

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    #bringbackrapeculture2015 Nihil's Avatar
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    What did Rev say?

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    Yes, please, DO TELL. Nothing like getting silently judged by the breakfast club of the forums because you're busy *gasp* working for a living.

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    Implying I'm not in the first 4 replies. Lrn 2 count scrubs.

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    It's kind of like the epidemic of mental illness going on right now. Every bodies got something, because we now have names for at all. You can connect any dots you like, but at the end of the day, people are bad. Nobody is innocent and nothing is good.

    Existence is random. It has no meaning, save what we ourselves choose to impose.

    Let's examine my avatar, which I've used on Destructoid for years,. In the interest of humor, I used vulgar phrases.

    It's a scene in a record store from the film version of A Clockwork Orange. In the scene, the villain protagonist goes to a record store and happens upon two young girls. He promptly invites them to come home with him and listen to their shitty pop music on his amazing stereo. There, he proceeds to have sex with both of them, with William Tell Overture playing loudly the entire time. As one grows tired and begins dressing herself and he's having his way with the other one, he stops, gets up, throws her down and pulls her clothes off. I'm not the sharpest knife, but it looked like she was ready for the old in out in out.

    In the book, the two girls were like ten if memory serves. If someone would like fact check this, please do on our video game forum.

    In the movie they look like they're about fifteen.

    That's a big difference in consent and sexual maturity, still gross, but fifteen year old girls who hang out in record stores and go home with men dressed in the height of fashion typically know what's up. Perhaps they didn't know he was going to jam them, but they still spread for him. When the one tries to leave, she goes right back to him for the crescendo of the William Tell Overture.

    It feels like a gray area, where the whole thing is something morally and ethically objectionable. Especially the book version, which made me feel nauseated as I read it. The key phrase is that it got an emotional reaction out of me, that's some straight up horrorshow bad guy shit. I don't like that at all. As I thought of what would be the most offensive avatar possible for our then free balling forum, I thought of using my infamous image of Fonzie giving a thumbs up in an inappropriate tragedy scene. That would get a reaction, but I used it before. It was old to me. I still love that picture, it's so insane, but I wanted something different. Something that would really make the people who saw my posts, see them with infamy.

    Earlier in the film, he totally rapes a woman while hauntingly crooning "Singing-in-the-Rain." Occasionally I see animated gifs of the husband to the woman the protagonist is raping's reaction to it. The scene in the film was the lead character depicted in my avatar, leading a train on a woman who let them into her house as he pleaded to use her telephone. He claimed there was a motorcar accident and was let in to destroy not only her life, but also her husband. The same lead character later fantasizes about being at Christ's Crucifixion as a Roman legionnaire whipping him and he also later murders a woman with a penis statue.

    I'm not exactly pro-rape, I don't think anybody but rapists are. The thing is, I laugh at dark weird shit like this. I like mean jokes. I like breaking people's balls. I love an emotional gut reaction. The idea that horror like this exists, is hilarious. I think I might be broken. When I'm genuinely frightened I become a very angry, mean person. My language and physical action becomes completely out of character with my jovial normalcy. Is it because I laugh at rape, drug addiction, death, and failure? Generally tragedy has always made me laugh more than good news.

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately, about the appropriateness of laughing at darkness.

    Here on our video game forum, I feel having an avatar of a villainous character from a movie made fifty years ago will fly well. Anyone whose seen the movie will get the joke of it, that this outrageous scene from an outrageous movie is a thing I picked to use as a picture here. It's very silly in this context. I feel like for Christmas one year, I put a santa hat on the guy.

    If this is or is not ethical or supportive of rape, isn't for me to decide. I'm not in charge of Destructoid or the world. I can't make a sweeping rule that says we can't talk about rape ever again. I didn't write any Law & Order SVU episodes, which I and many other people find humerous in their dramatic representations of sexual assaults.

    The question really is, why is it so funny?
    Because it's such a taboo?
    Because it's real?
    Because the people laughing are bad?

    Or

    Is everything that ever was or will be in itself humorous?

    I'd like to think nobody ever watched a movie or played a video game went out and repeated the things they saw, but people are stupid. I don't blame art for inspiring people to do dumb shit, I blame the people and their parents for not parenting them well enough that they know the difference between a depiction of rape in a sci fi movie and going out horny in the middle of the night.

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    New study links desperate internet clicks to bored researchers without a clue.

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    Ok, reading through this now. So the crux of the study is that women using sexualized avatars (either with or without their face) were more conscious about their bodies. Sure, using an occulus rift and staring into a virtual mirror at the body I'm playing as would make me think of it. I don't think that should come as a surprise to anyone. You present someone with a stimuli and they are going to think about it. That's seems perfectly normal.

    In one paragraph they discuss earlier studies that have linked "sexually explicit and objectifying depictions" of women to self-objectification, acceptance of rape myths, acceptance of violence towards women and aggression. I personally find the one about rape myths an odd inclusion since the studies in question (Allen, Emmers, Gebhardt, & Giery, 1995; Burt, 1980) are nearly 20 years odd and let's face it, technologically a lot has changed. I haven't gone to look at those studies, but I'm pretty sure the ones from the 80's are only talking about tv and movies since games hadn't been popularized yet and the link they talk about (sexually explicit and objectifying depictions) has nothing specific to games. They are trying to use them as accepted qualifiers to shape the results of their avatar-based study.

    The study's first Hypothesis is that based upon the Proteus Effect (learning from your environments and seeing others around you act) and Objectification Theory (sexual objectification functions to socialize girls and women to treat themselves as objects) that those two principles would remain true in a virtual world and Participants who embody a sexualized avatar will report more body-related thoughts than participants who wear a non-sexualized avatar.

    So far, to me at least, that seems a perfectly logical assumption. Not due to Proteus theory or Objectification Theory, but just because if you present people with a stimuli they are going to think about it. Simple as that. Which thing would you pay more attention to? A pretty diamond or a skipping-stone? Not the best analogy, but you get my point.

    The second hypothesis: Participants who wear a sexualized avatar will express more rape myth acceptance than participants who wear a non-sexualized avatar. This is based entirely on two studies findings in regards to virtual stimuli. Fox & Bailenson 2009 - interacting with stereotypical virtual representations of women can promote rape myth acceptance; and Behm-Morawitz & Mastro 2009 - playing as a sexualized video gamecharacter diminished self-efficacy for women. They also site early media studies that watching tv increases rape myth acceptance and the likelihood of men to rape someone.

    To that I shake my head. First off, the early studies may show that yes, people who watch sexual things will think about sexual things and doing sexual acts. The key word is they think about these things. So yes, your findings that it increases thoughts about doing things that would be socially unacceptable is probably accurate. When they go so far as to say it unequivocally increases the chances of acting on said thoughts is where I check out. Unless the men from your study actually went and raped someone then you have no way of knowing if they are "more likely" or not to commit the act. It's an assumption.

    As far as rape myth acceptance, sure, I believe the study got accurate "data". People see someone in a sexual light and they think about what they would like to do to them sexually. I can easily see that thought as being deemed as rape myth acceptance since the subject is thinking about doing things to the "object" without consent. Again though, unless your subject actually went a committed these acts, it is still an assumption that it increases likelihoods or changes their worldview.

    They did two tests, a dress test and a face test. Dress to get opinions solely on clothes and Face to see if people respond differently to having their face on the avatar. They then asked a bunch of questions (not all related to the test to mask what they were studying). They don't show us these questions, how many there were, how they were phrased or anything about the answers given.

    So here are some of the findings (they used scales of 1-5 for subjects to answer on. 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree. M = median, SD = standard deviation).

    -Dress test - Participants in sexualized avatars indicated that the avatar was more sexy (M= 2.36, SD = 1.10) and suggestively dressed (M = 3.49, SD = 1.07) than participants in the Nonsexualized conditions (sexy, M = 1.36, SD= .72; suggestively dressed, M = 1.07, SD= .33).

    Ok, nothing weird there, the sexually dressed avatars scored higher. Though if you look the only thing that breached a score of 3 (Agree) was that the sexual ones were suggestively dressed.

    -Face test - Participants in the Self conditions (viewing their head on the avatar) (M = 3.24, SD = .92) indicated that the avatar resembled them in the face significantly more than participants in the Other conditions (M = 1.55, SD= .70)

    Ok, I would hope so. You guys took pictures of them to craft onto the avatars so they better say their personal one looks more like them or else you are horrible at making graphics.

    The weird thing is they go on to plug those numbers into an equation that they do not explain or define in the document anywhere to get the numbers they base their "findings" on. Without you explaining what the hell these equations represent all I see is people saying that a sexualized avatar dresses vaguely sexy and that the people giving the study are "ok" at making avatars look like people. Seriously, the results only list those two things I put up there and the discussions lists a bunch of equations and talks about how people experienced more body image thoughts when using a sexualized avatar. Unless those equations are magical or they left out a huge chunk of what they actually studied, those results above tell me nothing about what people thought let alone anything about rape culture acceptance.

    So that tells me all their "results" are based on how people answered the questions that they have told us nothing about. Seriously though, it just goes on to say something like this:

    "Post hoc comparisons with a Bonferroni correction revealed that participants who wore a Sexualized Self (M = 1.95, SD = .57) expressed greater rape myth acceptance than participants who saw a Sexualized Other (M = 1.54, SD = .36) although there were no significant differences with the Nonsexualized Self (M = 1.82, SD = .42) or Nonsexualized Other (M = 1.72, SD= .45)."

    when nothing that they have actually given us results for says anything about rape myths at all. We know they asked questions about body image and rape on a 1-5 scale, but without fronting the actual answers and just reporting a final number there is a lot left open to questioning as to how valid this entire thing is.

    Sadly this will probably be cited in future studies and no one will think twice about it.

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    #bringbackrapeculture2015 Nihil's Avatar
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    Cited in future studies about what? How virtual reality games will turn kids into serial killers?

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    Rapists, Nihil. Super cereal rapists.

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    #bringbackrapeculture2015 Nihil's Avatar
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    Yes, because science needs to find a connection between rape culture and all things that bring normal people joy.

    You thought bananas were a great source of protein? Turns out they're actually a great source of cancer.

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