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Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll in games

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Midnight_Carnival
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I have encountered this on a number of threads on the New Game Ideas forum:
Somebody says "hell no" to somebody including drugs in their game.

Some questions then:

1) is the point of making games to provide entertainment, to provide a good moral framework for children or to make money?
"why can't it be all 3?" why not indeed? but does it need to be?

2) how are drugs or other perhaps slightly morally ambiguous elements* featured in the game? Are they promoted, depicted as a clever way to get ahead? are they shown as something which could give you a bonus or the edge over other players or are they shown as something unpleasant, an obstacle or just a fact of life in general?

3) will a 5 year old who plays this game really grow up to be a meth addict serial killer who burns down churches? really?

4) I will give examples of some subjects here which are generally best avoided in conversation: child abuse, rape, prejudice related violence, etc. these are things which victims will probably be upset by, especially if they are portrayed in a humorous or sensationalist/glorified manner and so it is in my opinion quite acceptable to say "hey! tone it down there!" - following this there are several themes which are very dark and distasteful but either so bizzare that they are distinctly uncommon or they involve the 'victim' already being dead. Take necrophilia, not exactly a pleasant dinnertime conversation topic but you wouldn't tell people to stop talking about it for the sake of the victims, now would you?
So I finally get round to asking the question...
Who's defence do people jump to when they get offended by drugs being featured in games_

And finally 5) what is more likely to case drug dependency and related criminal activity> someone seeing it in a game, on tv, in a movie or in a computer game and thinking "hey, drugs are cool!" or a system of alleged "health" which defines "disease" as "feeling bad" and prescribes drugs to people, not to heal them, not to treat the underlying cause, but to cover the symptoms and make them feel good?

* I previously gave the example of somebody making a child porn themed board game with creepily illustrated cards as something I think most people would find highly distasteful regardless of how it was presented! Would having the option to use or trade in illegal drugs as one aspect of the game really constitute such an upsetting scenario as this? I argue that a few would find this upsetting, some would think it cute or clever and the vast majority just wouldn't care.

questccg
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Have you played...

Scarface: The World is Yours. On one of the popular consoles? It's like GTA without the icing and sugar:

You play Tony Montana, a drug lord, who is raided and forced to restore his reputation by taking control of small time gangs and rebuilding his control of Miami's drug scene. Power and revenge are the dominant themes of this game.

Anyhow this game is an AMAZING throw-back to the 1980s. So much so, that if you loved shows like Magnum PI or the A-Team, this title with it's 80s soundtrack is a fantastic return to the past.

I played it and loved it. But it's a Video Game. Listening to Earth, Wind and Fire sing "Let's Groove" or Iggy Pops "Passenger"... Just an amazing compilation.

That's all I will say. :)

McTeddy
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1) It Depends, 2) It depends,

1) It Depends, 2) It depends, 3) etc.

Pretty much, everything you asked varies by person and by game. Even a single person can have varied opinions on the topics based on specifics of their life or the wording of the question.

At the end of the day, only one thing matters... will people ACTUALLY play a game? This is a completely voluntary decision and it depends on specifics.

You ask me, I'll play pretty much anything.

But in reality, I don't enjoy excessive violence. While I like dark themes and being a villain, I don't want to be a bad guy. For my home group, I rely on family family casual games, but with my online ones pretty much anything is fair game.

In reality, I ain't buying anything with half-naked people on the cover because I don't want someone stumbling on it and getting the wrong idea. It could be the greatest game ever created... but I wouldn't buy it.

It's not about whether I'd "play a game", it's "At the end of a long workweek, where will I invest my limited time"

Casual family-friendly is variable. You won't drive off many people with simple fun rules, decent art and a generic theme. Whoever's nearby... I could comfortably invite them to play.

Whether it's unsuitable for younger players, offending someone's morals or just needing the right mood... you risk shrinking your potential audience. For most of us, it's small enough already.

- - - -

As for Scarface, I just wanted to nod my approval. I enjoyed it too, particularly the laundering mechanic. I still think about it from time to time.

let-off studios
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Some responses

I have some initial reactions to your questions, and then an over-arching response.

First off, I think you can do some research on your answers to questions 3 and 5. The affect of media consumption (what people watch, play, and read) has had a fair amount of coverage in the past 30 years or so. I suspect there are studies you can review that will tell you - with more authority than a casual discussion, at least - if a correlation, causation, or contributing-factor relationship between one's behaviour and one's entertainment can be established.

Additionally, I think that games don't do a good job of depicting the pursuit of altered states. Generally-speaking, people would much rather smoke a bowl or have a few beers, and then play a mass-market or mainstream game like Settlers or Cards Against Humanity. I suppose my main point is: if people are attracted to drugs, they'll go find them and get high. They won't play a game about getting high. They'll spend their disposable income on the substance itself.

Selling drugs? Sure, people will play games about that. Bootleggers is one off the top of my head, and I assume that's at least kinda popular. When I was in middle school I played Drug Wars on a scientific calculator. I do think there's a strong connection with finding an audience and success with games like these, as they do seem to be niche topics for a variety of reasons.

Finally, regarding question 1: two outta three ain't bad. Or even one outta the three you mention there is okay, I guess. Focus on a particular audience and that usually takes care of this kind of (simplified?) metric.

Fun questions for me to start my day! Thanks for sharing. :)

Midnight_Carnival
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In Rawanda...

As for the issue of media and marketing, brand names, evil brainwashing Syndicate (sorry, you mentioned older games and that got me into a way-retro mood) multinationals who are actually run by satanic cults spreading EVIL I TELL YOU EEEEVIIIILLL!!!!

Well, if the amount someone was exposed to somewhat distasteful stuff in the media, games, computer games, etc determined the level of violence and perversity in society, then following this argument, countries which often have fairly open ideas about what is suitable for public consumption, such as (correct me if I'm wrong here) Japan and several scandanavian countries would be hell on earth, where as countries like Rawanda, DRC and Sudan where people are exposed to relatively little of the ills of society in the media (because a television set is regarded as a luxury item) would be safe happy places.
Yes?

1/2 naked people on the game box!: I agree strongly and disagree at the same time.
I have no problem with nudity at all. Babies are born naked and breastfeed from their mothers every day. I saw a woman breastfeeding a baby on the main road on the way here, nobody was filming it and uploading it to some dodgy website, I saw absolutely nobody giving her some questionable attention, etc...
But using people's bodies to sell stuff, imposing your morals on others and deciding that all depictions of the human body are by definition sexualised, that is something I do have a problem with.
So if your game was about stone age people and featured a group of people doing activities featured in the game including a bare-breasted woman skinning an animal or some such... good for the game. But needlessly tacking sexualised trash onto something in the hope that it will sell is a) disgusting and b) a waste of time. Just like drug addicts would rather get high than play a game about getting high, so people who are that way inclined ("perverts") would rather just surf the internet for porn (it's not hard to find or expensive!) than buy a game, learn the rules, get some friends together and play it on a tuesday night just because it had a naked woman on the box.

let-off studios
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Midnight_Carnival wrote:Well,

Midnight_Carnival wrote:
Well, if the amount someone was exposed to somewhat distasteful stuff in the media, [etc. etc.] Japan and several scandanavian countries would be hell on earth, where as countries like Rawanda, DRC and Sudan where people are exposed to relatively little of the ills of society in the media (because a television set is regarded as a luxury item) would be safe happy places.
Yes?
In short, no. I do agree whole-heartedly that televisions are powerful sources for media and promotion. However, your argument doesn't make sense to me (practically no country lives in an isolationist vacuum and national borders mean little to media propagation and penetration, for one), and mentions nothing of the difference between correlation, causation, and contributing factors. If you want to speak authoritatively on the subject - or learn some solid conclusions or tendencies identified by those who have spent time studying the subject - do some serious online research to start.

I agree that if someone tries to market a niche game but the product fails to deliver the same experience, or a similar immersive experience, then it's just a game that isn't good at what it says it wants to do. But that doesn't mean it won't sell. The vast majority of advertising, from restaurants and alcohol to clothes, music, and deodorant, should make it clear that sex can be used to sell anything and everything as long as it attracts the money of the target market.

questccg
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Chaotic TCG - gone WILD?!?!

Are you saying that we should invest our energies in creating a pornographic TCG/CCG that allows people to express their inner voyeur by providing codes to explicitly view content via a global website?!?!

To be honest, I'm not seeing this as something that could work.

I'm not saying you might get some under 18 (or 21) youngsters interested in the game... for reasons in relation to "FUN"... but who would purchase 18+ card sets: you would need to ask for ID before selling a pack of cards.

And realistically, it is possible that such a game could attract an audience.

But then again look at "PORN" the game on "The Game Crafter": https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/porn:-the-game-

It has sold like HOT CAKES. There are even expansions!

Personally if you want porn, there is so much of it online - and even free porn... it's not funny. So I don't see games like this taking off - unless for "young" voyeurs.

Midnight_Carnival
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Ok...

regarding central African countries, I happen to know quite a few people from the region and I can say with a degree of certainty that however evil the media may be, it has nothing to do with the violence and rape going on there. Perhaps indirectly, where media is used to spread porpaganda and in the case of the Rawandan genocide... yes, well you can look that up for yourseves, but as to problems in central Africa being caused by no "kids please don´t try this at home" messages... no, just no.

As for depictions of nudity causing ´imoraitly´ I don´t personally beive that to be the case. I find the use of sex to sell stuff disgusting but I don´t think that even that is going to lead to anything beyond some corporate (edited) getting rich.

questccg: were you responding to my post? If so, I worry you did not understand it.

"Personally if you want porn, there is so much of it online - and even free porn... it's not funny. So I don't see games like this taking off -"
is very similar to the point I was trying to make only more elegantly phrased. No, in case you were asking, I have no interest in making pornographic games, much less in making games featuring gratutitous displays of the human body or needless sexual references purely for the sake of making money.

I have almost no interest in making money anyway; I have come up with one game which I think will make (rather a lot of) money if marketed correctly and I´m working on it without posting any details on the forum, otherwise the stuff I post is stuff I´m developing for the joy of doing so and to share with others. I have created several games and shared them freely with people before and will do so again. For my puposes, sex and nudity as marketing tools are totally needless.

questccg
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Midnight_Carnival wrote:...I

Midnight_Carnival wrote:
...I have almost no interest in making money anyway; I have come up with one game which I think will make (rather a lot of) money if marketed correctly and I´m working on it without posting any details on the forum, otherwise the stuff I post is stuff I´m developing for the joy of doing so and to share with others...

Well this goes to show your "inexperience" in developing games. I can tell you that MARKETING a game is VERY EXPENSIVE. How do I know? Because I am in the process of TRYING to market my game "Tradewars - Homeworld" which has been in development for three (3) years.

Facebook (FB) marketing costs A LOT and is almost WORTHLESS. Plus FB lies and cheats you out of money too... How? They promise exposure for your posts, like a certain number of views, often it turns out to WAY LESS than they had promised. For example for $100.00 my post was supposed to reach about 10% of 65,000 so 6,500 people. At $50.00 I was a 1,500 people... So I might get HALF the views... F-ken bastards, FB is sh!t.

Next BANNERS, BGG costs $800.00 for 1 months worth of exposure. Can you handle $800.00??? To one single website. Do you really think their exposure will work out? Like you will get MORE than $800.00 worth of sales???

Marketing in this business IS the problem. I don't see anyone who knows how to do it AFFORDABLY.

Going to CONS. Well do you know that some cons cost $500.00+ per table per weekend. How many cons are you going to go to for that price. Plus you got to factor in your travel expenses and hotel for lodgings... Again maybe another $1,000. Again how many cons can you afford going???

In an industry where you will HOPE to sell 1,500 units of a game (that's HIGH btw - and indicative of a very successful game)... If you are making $20.00 per unit - the amount of profit is about $30,000. Not too bad. But this is IF your game is VERY successful.

But can you afford to fork over in ADVANCE all those marketing elements that cost money (banners, ads, cons, etc.) and HOPE you make enough money to A> Break Even and B> Try to make some money.

Building a community is very hard. How do I know? I'm in the process of doing so since December 2015. Even with a community not many will become backers (according to Jamey Stegmair).

So you're saying "ALL I NEED IS GOOD MARKETING." I'm saying "What marketing do you have?" Everything I see is very expensive and does NOT guarantee any form of return.

Here's what I think: the people pretending to HAVE marketing are making all the REAL money. $800.00 for a banner, seriously?!?! $100.00 to boost a post (to get 10% - in reality only 5%)...

Marketing IS the problem. Building a community takes YEARS, not days or months.

let-off studios
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*barf*

questccg wrote:
But then again look at "PORN" the game on "The Game Crafter": https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/porn:-the-game-

It has sold like HOT CAKES. There are even expansions!

There's a sucker born every minute AMIRIGHT?!?!

questccg
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Well if you know anything about TGC...

That game has SOLD OVER 1,000 copies... Can you say that?

let-off studios
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Haha!

Nope, I haven't been able to sell any of my own games just yet. However I would never choose to make a game related to the pornography industry, based on personal and ethical reasons. I'd rather be forgotten.

chris_mancini
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This also brings up the trend

This also brings up the trend of NSFW cards and decks in a few recent Kickstarters. If the success of pledge levels featuring these decks is any indication, people love things that are "wrong" as long as they're funny and not blatantly offensive.

NSFW generally means 4 things - nudity, foul language, extreme violence and scatalogical humor. Some may see these as low-brow and taking the easy route to getting a laugh, but if they're presented well, they can be more funny than offensive. I think it's all in how you present the topics, and how it relates to the gameplay experience.

Porn:The Game has seen a fair amount of success; certainly for a game on TGC. More great reviews than bad...I still have little interest in playing it, but I'm sure the designer(s) knew what they're were going for at the outset.

I too have a party-style crad and dice game with a "twisted" sense of humor, and have made a list of cards for a NSFW deck. I imagine for a game like this, the precedent has been set and a NSFW deck would be expected as part of a Kicksatarter. The challenge is making sure those cards work with the rest of the game, and aren't just cheap gags...or rather that they aren't TOO cheap!

There has to be a cleverness to them in order to make the NSFW elements worthwhile...if it's just "boobs n' poop," it can take the entire game down with it.

questccg
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What has come of this world

chris_mancini wrote:
This also brings up the trend of NSFW cards and decks in a few recent Kickstarters. If the success of pledge levels featuring these decks is any indication, people love things that are "wrong" as long as they're funny and not blatantly offensive...

That's because I think people are mostly pervs and they want to "show off" themselves with their partners.

I'm on Facebook and I get a "nice looking" woman who sends me a "Friend request". I'm like: "Okay she's cute, let's have a look at her page..." WRONG! PORN!!!

I think most people are "exhibitionists" to a certain degree. All except the God-fearing people and there are very few of those left. People want to be able to do whatever they choose to, and many choose to shoot PORN with their webcams...

That's the world we live in...

Willem Verheij
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I think it strongly depends

I think it strongly depends on the theme of the game and how strong the theme is.

If your game is set in a seedy area of a city and its criminal network and is quite gritty in its artwork, then some nudity shown on cards regarding stripclubs, prostitutes or such is fine, same for drugs being shown since drugs and prostitution are part of that criminal world.

It could work really well if the players play detectives or such, to give it a great film noir feeling.

Midnight_Carnival
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I still don't see the problem with nudity.

Really, I mean you see yourself naked in the shower every day (we hope the sake of those around you!) and that doesn't make you go out and do bad things to people which I don't feel like discussing right now.
There can be a 2-16 age restriction on a movie for showing a woman's breasts which is ridiculous since there are many children who are breast-fed up till the age of four (some even older!) ...so your mom's boobs are ok, but Charlize Theron´s (for examle) are the work of the devil?!
Then ... Ok, I applogise in advance for playing the race card here, but I´m not just doing it for cheap thrills and trolling value... you will see a national geographic documentary about the Dinka in Sudan or the Xingu in the amazon who walk around practically naked all the time and there won´t be the slightest hint of a restriction based on who can see that, even though it involves full frontal nudity, genitals on display, etc, but show a bit of side-boob from a woman in a western European country (even though many of these countries have very liberal attitudes towards nudity), or in North America and all of a sudden there are heavy restrictions on who can watch it! Of course if you start putting restricitons on such programs then you are in effect telling these people that their tradional way of life is "wrong" and I´m not sure which one is more racist, but that is another matter. As I have said, I´m disgusted by people trying to use the human body and sex to sell things, but if we are mature and honest with ourselves we will see why this actuall works. Marketing and sales work on supply and demand.
If a woman's breasts are a rare commodity then they will have monitary value but if you can see them on every street corner, in the shop while buying groceries, at home, on television, on the beach, driving to work, visiting yoru friends, in short anywhere and everywhere you go, they will just be part of the human body like a nose or an ankle (and yes, you can be turned on by somebody's nose or ankle if a) you have some kind of perverted fettish or b) you are in love with them and every part of them is like exploring a beautiful contry)
I like nudity, it makes me happy. I will put it in a game some day, I won´t make that TCG, sorry you're on you own on that one, but I will include nudity somewhere, not to make my game sell better, but because I feel that there is nothing wrong with it. If somebody calls you a "pervert" for showing your knees for example, chances are that the only perversion around exists in their minds

sorry, I'm just ranting, you don't need to take me seriously

let-off studios
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Sexual Objectification

Have a look at this. Maybe you'll begin to see why some people take this kind of topic very seriously. And no: they don't care about what makes you feel good. It's about cultural critique, not about personal opinions (so please don't take it personally).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_objectification

Quote:
Female sexual objectification by a male involves a woman being viewed primarily as an object of male sexual desire, rather than as a whole person. Although opinions differ as to which situations are objectionable, some feminists see objectification of women taking place in the sexually oriented depictions of women in advertising and media, women being portrayed as weak or submissive through pornography, images in more mainstream media such as advertising and art, stripping and prostitution, men brazenly evaluating or judging women sexually or aesthetically in public spaces and events, such as beauty contests, and the presumed need for cosmetic surgery, particularly breast enlargement and labiaplasty.

Objectification in the media can range from subtle forms, such as the lack of main female characters, to very explicit forms like highly sexualized dialogue and provocatively dressed female characters.

(see the entry for citations)

questccg
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Hmm...

I think you are "barking" up the wrong tree...

First of all "women" use their sexuality all the time. Most men would F- anything that allows them to...

I know some feminists who tell me "I'm completely wrong". They see their own sexuality as a way to gain Control, Money & Power. Look at all the top singers in the world: Miley Cirus, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez, etc.

Sexuality is the balance between Men and Women. Women have their sexuality and dominate the men who want it.

The oldest profession - is supposed to be Prostitution.

Personally I'm against it. When I was in a steady relationship, there is no woman on Earth who would divide me from my girlfriend. That's the type of guy that I am, Honest to a Fault and extremely loyal to the people who treat me with a certain amount of respect and dignity.

If everyone thought like me (says some feminists) women would have no power at all. Because take away their sexuality and then what's left??? Perhaps personality and your inner self? Not enough for those feminists I have spoken with...

So Sexual Objectification is not a vice in this world. It's just the way the world is ran. Men want the women, women want their Power & Money.

That's what feminists tell me...

Nice guys like me, are "dangerous" to the societal balance.

questccg
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People on television

Haven't you noticed that MOST (not all) people on Television are "Good Looking". Or perhaps "better looking that the average"? If you want to talk about real "Sexual Objectification" explain to me why the "Weather Lady" looks just as HOT as "Jessica Simpson"?

Media is also producing standards as well... That lead to objectification. It doesn't need to be Pornography. And the truth is, how much pornography can you take in???

How about going to the grocery store and having women all wearing sexually attractive attire to "attract" men - unless they are lesbians and they are trying to entice the same sex... But who do you blame? The media, the women themselves, the men (?!) I seriously doubt that because the men are horned dogs, that it's their fault that women are parading around "Sexually Objectifying" themselves.

Don't point it all on Pornography... I would say that Media is probably to be blamed the most. Not just the Pornography industry.

Perhaps I am wrong in my understanding...

let-off studios
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Read Some Books

questccg wrote:
I think you are "barking" up the wrong tree...
[...]
The oldest profession - is supposed to be Prostitution.
The oldest profession is not prostitution. The oldest profession is slavedriver.

And yes, I think you are confused in your understanding. Read the entire Wikipedia entry, and then ask yourself the same questions you posted above. Then you may be able to understand why the female meteorologist feels compelled to dress herself up to report the weather. Ask yourself why the image of performers like Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus turned a corner when they hit like 16 years old or whatever.

Secondly, this is just scratching the surface. If you want to hear some serious feminist critique, take a look at some of the work from Sheila Jeffreys, Andrea Dworkin, Katherine McKinnon, and others from the second wave of feminism. I personally found it enlightening, and a lot more useful and insightful than just paying attention to what I see on television and what my "feminist" friends say.

...I regret sending this thread down the off-topic rabbit hole. My apologies, for what that's worth. I won't comment here again.

Willem Verheij
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The oldest proffesion was

The oldest proffesion was likely hunter or fisherman or such, since people needed to eat to stay alive, and if they would want to see a prostitute they'd need to have some payment for it like food.

Regarding sexual exploitation or such.. I think it is important to show different kind of women in a story.

If all the women in a story are just sex objects then I would say it is objectifying them, and to me that would be just as uninteresting as all men being musclebound killing machines. People are diverse.

If the setting is a seedy area of town with prostitutes, brothels, etc, there is still room for female characters who are not prostitutes, tough women who stand up for themselves.

To use the fantasy setting I'm working on as an example, I kept it traditional with genders not being equal like it was in medieval times. But some of my main characters are women who reject the traditional role for different reasons. And they do face other problems through this.
One is a female warrior for example. In some situations she just cant win. If some guy says she shouldnt fight and she fights him and beats him, he'd likely resent her for it because being beaten by a woman would be a great shame.
So she is typically beloved by common soldiers because she helps them win battles so they can return to their families, while officers and nobles hate her because she steals their glory.

To me women tend to be great for underdog roles like that, and I do like a good underdog story.

Midnight_Carnival
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not buying the objectification, sorry.

And no, it is not becasue I see all women as prostititues nor is it because I want to make money out of selling female sex appeal, it is because I have seen real genuine opression and abuse. I come from a sick and disgusting society where at least 1-3 women have been the victim of some form of sexual violence (including close friends, loved ones, etc) and where a significant portion of the (male) population seems to think that a man beating his wife until she is hospitalised is not a crime, because it is "his right as a man".
What do the feminists in my country get upset over, what do they take to the streets over and what do they make a big noise about? "gendered language", media and advertising, small abstract philosophical things which they feel oppress women. Seriously, got to one of those rural communities and find a beaten woman who was forced to marry her rapist (because of the "culture and traditions") and tell her that she is suffering becuase in the English language (which she does not speak by the way) people say "chairman" and this makes men feel that they have the right to rape without any cansequence.

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