Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Legend of Zelda and Feminism: An Insult to Writers (And Women)

In the shadows of the internet and in the light of my hiatus, my focus in terms of what political issues I follow has narrowed its way down to two topics: atheism and feminism. I, without hesitance, identify myself as an agnostic atheist, because it is a statement of my belief and my method of arriving at that belief, rather than my personal philosophy and political views.

Feminism is much different. Feminism carries this air of uncertainty, and can be misconstrued in many ways; and in my opinion, it just seems to be a pointless moniker when "gender equality" is not so ambiguous, and is preferable in every way for the sake of clarity. That being said, while I don't identify myself as a feminist, many of my views can be seen as aligning with the feminist movement.

I make strong statements on my blog, and in some cases, it's very easy to tell under what banner I might be standing when an all out war of religion/politics/race rises out of the murky shadows of humanity's contempt for one another. But above any potential alignment with any political or social movement in existence, there is one identity that blankets my soul greater than anything else; and it is, from the perspective of my infinite wisdom, a force so powerful that only the most courageous of heroes could vanquish it. For those of you who are video game fans, hardcore or casual, you know exactly what I'm referring to.

Oh the pleasant, socially uninformed memories.
In August of 1993, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was released in North America -- and I was born -- setting my fate as a diehard Zelda fan beyond all else; although the first Zelda game I ever played was, well, the first one. If we count all gameplay totals, then weeks, maybe months of my life have been invested in playing every Zelda game that has reached the market; but this doesn't even come close to counting the extra steps I've taken in dedicating myself to the Zelda franchise, to the point that I have, in my possession, at least four copies of Hyrule Historia (in unique formats), made unnecessary investments such as converting my Zelda games on the Famicom (because who doesn't love imports?), learned how to ride on horseback, and much more. The only thing that's left is a cosplay, which my friends have been begging me to do, but that's not what my interest is. My personal investment is in the story, the content, not my derivations of such. I don't write fan fictions, for example -- I appreciate the original story with all my heart.

So when the scope of feminism decided to encroach upon the Legend of Zelda, you can imagine how much I was frothing at the mouth, sharpening my claws and teeth, preparing to rip apart the leader of the crusade on what has to be my most favorite video game franchise of all time... My paleo-instincts targeted none other than Anita Sarkeesian.

Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist, media critic and blogger, author of Feminist Frequency, which seeks to deconstruct the portrayals of women in video games and other media using feminist philosophy. Just this year, she was awarded the 14th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, and was nominated for Microsoft's 2014 Women in Gaming Awards. Her work has been widely praised for allegedly standing up to the virulent misogyny of popular media through her 'critical analysis.' She has become, for all intents and purposes, the poster woman of feminism in media and gaming, and many people have bought into the dissemination of her 'analyses.'

How duped they have been.

Anita Sarkeesian
I have no issues, personally, with Anita Sarkeesian. She seems to be genuinely trying to do what she thinks is right, and I have no issues with strong minded women vocalizing themselves. With all this in mind, I think Ms. Sarkeesian has gone beyond the reaches of the good she could have done, and is now bringing a bad name to the feminist movement she is a representative of. Her work inspires people to think more critically about what they see in media, but on a case-by-case basis, her analyses are very uninformative, and sometimes just seem downright crazy.

But it would take forever to look at everything she's ever said, and honestly, I've never had any desire to. However, the moment she hammers a nail into the Legend of Zelda and says "this is what I want to look at," oh boy do the gloves come off, and the stilettos on. This is actually over a year late, but if you want to find where all of this is coming from, refer to her first episode of "Damsel in Distress." Now, without further ado, let's begin.

In her first criticisms, Ms. Sarkeesian notes that in every game in the series, Zelda has been kidnapped, possessed, turned to stone, or otherwise been taken advantage of/incapacitated, hence her "damsel in distress" role. Of course, the reason behind this is explained in much detail, both throughout the games, and in the external sources of information. Simply put, whoever the goddesses decide will possess each piece of the Triforce, those people become destined to carry certain... destinies. The Triforce of Courage is bound to the hero of legend, who will always become one incarnation of Link. The Triforce of Wisdom is bound to the princess or queen who shall inherit the throne of Hyrule, who will always become one incarnation of Zelda. The Triforce of Power is bound to the man who will use his power to seek the entire Triforce, who will always become the reincarnation of Demise. These roles are revealed in many separate places in Hyrule Historia, most notably with the origins of the legend: the War of Hylia.

Ganondorf: AKA "Big Dick"
But why, you would then ask, would Shigeru Miyamoto or Eiji Aonuma decide to make the "damsel in distress" the crux of the legend, or at least the games in the series? Why not change it? We'll get to that later: however, it should be noted that the person who is always the evil villain bent on ruling the world in the series, consistent with many other game series as well, is a man. Something for you to think about. For now, let's continue on with Ms. Sarkeesian's criticisms.

She continues on by stating that Zelda has always been in the role of either assistant or sidekick in the game series, and was only ever a crucial part of the story when she transforms into Sheik in Ocarina of Time, but is then captured by Ganondorf 3 minutes after she turns back into Zelda. Well, once again, this was explained.

In the events of Wind Waker, Ganondorf sends a gigantic bird across the Great Sea to hunt down girls told of in legend to possess the Triforce of Wisdom: blonde haired girls with pointy ears. This allows the bird to confuse the true identity of Zelda for many different characters, including two girls from Windfall Island and Link's own sister. The characters within the story are just as aware of the roles that the characters play as we are, because it is the legend of their own land, and Ganondorf seems to have been alive for many different games in the series to act on his own personal knowledge.

Thus, we can safely conclude that Zelda, being aware of the legend, since she's the daughter of the King of Hyrule, will also be aware of the legend, and therefore would have to disguise herself not only as a Sheikah, but as a male Sheikah who does not reveal his long, flowing hair in order to prevent Ganondorf from accurately figuring out her identity. In fact, Ganondorf includes another telling fact about the situation in his kidnapping speech, but we'll get to that in a moment. Her disguise actually works, because even Princess Ruto confuses Sheik for a male. How do we know that Sheik, canonically, is supposed to be a female though? Because Eiji Aonuma said so.

Now, for Ganondorf's telling fact. Ganondorf states, while kidnapping Zelda in Ocarina of Time, that if he followed Link, who he knew to be in possession of the Triforce of Courage, he would find the person who possessed the Triforce of Wisdom. The Triforce of Courage prevents Ganondorf from using his magic to kidnap the person wielding it, so instead he simply followed Link around until he found Zelda. That's why she was kidnapped immediately. Not because she revealed herself to be a woman, but because everyone was in full knowledge (except Link) that Zelda was in disguise specifically to protect herself from Ganondorf. If anything, once again, blame Ganondorf from being the stereotypical power hungry, sexist man that he is.

If you want to argue that despite the story solidly explaining why all of this happened, it sends a psychological message that associates feminine Zelda with "damsel in distress," then you need to talk to yourself and the people who think Zelda is an object, not Eiji.

She then goes on to criticize the Tetra/Zelda portrayal in the Wind Waker. Well... this one is a bit more telling of Ms. Sarkeesian's point of view than that of the game developers. To summarize, her issue with the Tetra/Zelda portrayal was that the moment Tetra transforms into Zelda, she's ordered to not accompany Link in his journey, and to stay in the temple in order to be safe. First of all, if you think about it in reality, I don't see what the issue is. Tetra and Zelda were the same person, both were female, it's just that when Tetra becomes the "more stereotypically feminine" Princess Zelda, she's ordered to stay behind. Up until that point, Zelda (who was then called Tetra) was fully capable of herself.

Tetra isn't feminine enough to be a woman!
Wait... is she saying that Tetra isn't feminine enough to reconcile for that? Why does she get to decide what femininity is? Isn't the whole point of the critical analysis of female portrayal supposed to be about deconstructing the idea of stereotypical femininity? What issues does she have with "tomboyish" Tetra, then? Just because her appearance didn't conform to the feminine appearance she would've preferred Tetra to have? Just because Tetra wasn't "stereotypically femine?" Isn't that supposed to be a good thing? That the female isn't necessarily portrayed as a girly girl princess? I'm sorry, but that's sexist, not the Zelda franchise.

I actually had my own criticisms of the Tetra/Zelda paradigm for my own reasons, that had more to deal with the color of her skin. What, white women can't be the heroes? Why did she have to lose that awesome tan?

(Mostly joking).

But beyond that, her criticism, within the realm of the story, is flawed for another reason. It was established that the moment Link pulled the Master Sword out of the pedestal, he granted Ganondorf his full potential -- all of his magic and evil powers came back. The temple was the only safe place for anyone who wasn't impervious to Ganondorf's magic, and so Zelda was asked to stay there, but even that didn't work.

Zelda wasn't the only victim of this: 3 great spirits, a bunch of fairies, and hundreds of people across the Great Sea fell victim to Ganondorf's evil as well. And, as established before, Ganondorf was now fully aware of who Zelda/Tetra was, and so she had to stay on the DL in order to not get royally screwed. At least, that's what they thought it would accomplish. Turns out Ganondorf is still the stereotypical male asshole.

So, yes, Zelda and Tetra are the same person, and Tetra was fully capable of herself. As even Ms. Sarkeesian noted, Zelda/Tetra even helps you fight Ganondorf in the final battle. She even helps rescue you from Ganondorf's grasp earlier in the game when you pay your second visit to the Forsaken Fortress. Talk about a damsel in distress, huh?

Ms. Sarkeesian's last criticism of the franchise is of Zelda/Tetra's portrayal in Phantom Hourglass, where she's kidnapped, turned to stone, then kidnapped again, but to explain the reasons why this criticism is invalid would just be to repeat the points made vastly above. Later in the video, she says she wants Zelda to be the protagonist in a story, and even makes it a point of saying "and I'm not talking about the DS games. I'm talking about full on console adventures." In this statement, Ms. Sarkeesian has just expressed two sentiments:

1: That DS installments in the Zelda series are somehow lesser games than the console installments; and,
2: That she has no appreciation for Hyrule lore.

So now ignoring Spirit Tracks (and Wand of Gamelon if you want to include the CD-i games), #2 brings us back to that really irritating question: why don't they just change the legend so that Zelda isn't perpetually screwed and forced to be in this position?

Well, simply put, you're an asshole for suggesting that.

Eiji Aonuma has already made it crystal clear that he doesn't wish to establish Zelda as a damsel in distress, because he acknowledges that the fans prefer a female that's more helpful, engaging and involved, like Zelda was in Ocarina of Time or in Wind Waker (although I would strongly argue that she is a very powerful woman in almost all of the Zelda series). To ask him to change his story otherwise is just beyond insensitive. As a writer, I can appreciate how much one can be invested in their own story. It can be their passion, even their life, and to have someone say "change this because I don't like it" can be the greatest insult to your person that anyone could ever offer.

I would fuck her.
The story writers are not obligated to change their story just because social activists don't like it. They've already made an attempt to appease their fans, and beyond that, we should all be excited for the upcoming Hyrule Warriors, where we get to play as Zelda and see how fully capable she is of kicking ass in her princess getup (actually, even better: Zelda in Hyrule Warriors is a queen). We also got to see that in Super Smash Bros. To ask them to change the entire foundation of the story, to change the legend, and to make all of the events of the previous games totally worthless is just unappealing for everybody.

But then it begs the question: why was Zelda the damsel in distress in the first place? Why did they decide that was a thing?

Honestly, that would be the best argument you could go for. Somehow, this whole idea that the depiction of Zelda in the games is sending us messages that she's useless isn't settling with me, because I can see how, in so many games, she has shown herself to be probably more powerful than Link, all things considered.

Consider how she kind of saved Midna's life using magic in Twilight Princess, and how she could teleport and render Ganon incapacitated in Ocarina of Time, or how she was actually a goddess in Skyward Sword. Also consider how in all of these games, Link needed some kind of assistant (Navi, Tatl, Fi, Ezlo, King of Red Lions, etc.), while Zelda often found herself without needing one, even when she was on her own. For goodness sake, she was the captain of a pirate crew and could kick grown ass men around in Wind Waker, despite her small stature.

The only thing you can really go for would be "why did they make this the story at the very, very beginning?" To criticize the game's repetitive nature thereafter is pointless, and to criticize the fact that the game writers haven't changed the lore to accommodate your needs is just plain insulting.

NEEDS MORE/LESS FEMININITY!
I think it was important to go through this for a few reasons, but the biggest thing is that it can be applied to many stories. Even when the female isn't being portrayed as the Damsel in Distress, Anita Sarkeesian will almost always have some kind of criticism of their depiction, such as Samus in the Metroid series. There is no winning play. There's always going to be something wrong. What we have to keep in mind while looking at these things is that, despite how some people may perceive the characters in the story, the fact remains that the story writers have sole agency in deciding what happens, and in most cases, they're willing to appeal to their fan base.

But at what point did we decide that it was okay to tell story writers what they can and can't do? Asking them to completely tear apart the foundations of their story and readjust the well-established, consistent lore, thereby making every single preceding game absolutely pointless in terms of the plot, simply to accommodate for your preferences is just, in my opinion, a disgusting insult, both as a writer and as a gamer.

Thank you all very much for reading.



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 EDIT:

I've decided that the comments I've received have produced a lot of strong arguments in defense of the Legend of Zelda series, so whenever I receive one that I think is good, or come up with another on my own, I'll include it in the list below. These will mostly not be direct responses to the contentions brought up by Anita Sarkeesian, but instead will simply extract information from Zelda lore in defense of the series as a whole.

Extra arguments:

- The Triforce of Wisdom is always granted to Zelda, symbolizing the female role as being mentally strong. (Courtesy of Nick T.)

- The name "Zelda" comes from the Teutonic word for "gray haired battle maiden," i.e. a female warrior. (Courtesy of Nick T.)

- "Princess Zelda" is not legitimized by being married to a prince, but instead is a single, female matriarch, even when she gains the status of "Queen." (Courtesy of Nick T.)

- The Gerudo race is made up entirely of warrior women, with the exception of a single male born every 100 years, who are able to survive despite the harsh environment that is the Gerudo Valley -- a place that is so horrific and deadly that even Ganondorf himself was envious of the land of Hyrule for that reason, thus is his motivation (explained in Wind Waker). (Courtesy of Nick C.)

- While the most powerful being in the land -- the one who holds the Triforce of Power -- is the reincarnation of Demise, every other powerful being in the game (the Great Fairies and the Golden Goddesses) are females; in fact, Din is the one who grants the Triforce of Power to whomever it goes to in the first place. This goes for all pieces of the Triforce as well. These powers are contingent on the decisions of women.

- Almost all of the main villains (Ganondorf, Demise, Vaati, Yuga, Ghirahim, Zant, etc.) are depicted as men. (Courtesy of Termina Knight)

- The seven sages in A Link to the Past were women, while five out of seven of them in Ocarina of Time were also women. (Courtesy of Termina Knight)

- At Lon Lon Ranch, there are only three people: Malon, Talon, and Ingo (Ocarina of Time). Talon runs the farm, but is found asleep in two separate scenarios, neglecting his deliveries. Ingo is the farmhand who exiles Talon and usurps control over the farm in order to appease Ganondorf. Malon, the only female, is kindhearted, helpful, and attentive. (Courtesy of Termina Knight)

- In Skyward Sword, in Zelda's speech to Link, it's revealed that Hylia had been manipulating Link's care for Zelda in order to have him follow her and to fulfill their destinies. Zelda was never in any danger, as she had Impa to protect her (powerful woman), but Link didn't know this. Even Zelda says "I used you," showing that the "damsel in distress" was never really in distress, but was actually (well, her goddess identity was) manipulating the protagonist. (Courtesy of Anonymous -- 7/25)

33 comments:

  1. I was glad to see that you did acknowledge that from a broad perspective, it does us good to think about these things, because we need to be critical of how things are portrayed around us, not just women. I'm in almost entire agreement with you about the things you said here, but instead of arguing with you, I feel there are other things that could strengthen your argument.

    For example, the fact that the Triforce of Wisdom is always granted to the Princess of Hyrule, Zelda. Could this be suggesting that the most feminine character in the game is wiser than the male characters? After all, she's always given this role.

    Let's look at her name too. "Zelda" has a long history, but its earliest origins would be in its Teutonic roots, where it meant "gray haired battle maiden;" in other words, a female warrior (albeit Zelda is blonde). She was intended to be a warrior in her own right, in that she is continuously willing to sacrifice her well being due to her given responsibility of guarding the Triforce of Wisdom; which leads you, the hero, to the Evil One, allowing you to vanquish him. She is always a vital element that leads to your eventual success as a hero, through her own sacrifice. That's pretty impressive, and very admirable.

    The fact that Zelda, as well is an unmarried princess, and also becomes the unmarried monarch of Hyrule in other games (such as Twilight Princess and Hyrule Warriors), speaks to her autonomy and strength as a woman - that she doesn't need a male counterpart to legitimize her position of power. She's more than capable of ruling the kingdom in her own right.

    Very compelling post. Glad to see you're somewhat back.

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    1. I think your most compelling argument was the last one, about Zelda's matriarchal status despite not having a husband. But I did enjoy all of your suggestions, so thank you for your input, Nick. I know this series means a lot to you as well, so I'm glad to have your insight. :)

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  2. I can definitely see the validity of the points you’ve raised here. The problem I have with the “analysis” she gives (of a series that got me into gaming, A Link to the Past ftw!) is that most of it is asinine. I do like that you raised the point of the fact that in several games Zelda is definitely not a weak damsel and contributes quite a bit. Another point I would have raised is the Gerudo race that Ganon belongs to. Sure they have that patriarchal law that the one male born every 100 years, but consider the fact that their entire race is otherwise exclusively women. Adding to that they are always shown as combat capable warriors, which is an earmark of their independence. Link has to demonstrate his own ability to them before he can move around their territory to boot! With villains like Veran from the GBC games, we can see that most of their lackeys are male as well.
    The other Nick also pointed out very astutely that Zelda’s role in each game we’ve seen in matriarchal. The idea that women are wiser than men actually dates back to several ancient civilizations and even some more recent ones (see some African tribes). And as you pointed out as well, the main character always had to have help and Zelda is never really shown requiring support from anyone else when she embarks on her own. Sure the series started with Zelda as more of a damsel, but the more recent iterations have proven her worthiness of a character in her own right. Your Windwaker example is a great one in this instance.
    I think your statement at the end is correct, in the end the writers definitely should have the final say. It’s their creative work wrought from their own imagination and life’s experience. Making some of the assertions she makes against Zelda would be the same as me walking into someone’s art gallery and telling them all these reasons why their art is wrong, so they should change it to appease my narrow-minded definitions.
    At the end of the day, the takeaway is that we shouldn’t be overly critical in our analysis of media. Due to the inherent variance of human mindsets it is impossible to really know what thought went into the creation of some works and making presumptions is bad for everyone. It’s better to start with obvious issues and work from there, as a good start makes a better impression on the minds of society. That’s just my two cents though.

    Nick C.

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    1. A Link to the Past, right above Ocarina of Time, is definitely my favorite Zelda game, and the one that sold the series to me in its entirety. It was absolutely everything I was ever looking for in a game, and it was like playing the original Zelda again, only with so much more stuff to do.

      You could even extend your use of the Gerudos even further: the fact that the only male that has been in their race for the past century is evil and maniacal is sure to send some imagery. I'm glad you brought that up, though, because it's something I overlooked. I had intended to include more information from the entire world of the Legend of Zelda, but instead I ended up almost exclusively focusing on Ms. Sarkeesian's criticisms.

      I also realized that one could make a counter argument to the fact that Link always has a companion: Impa. Impa is usually there because of her status as a princess, though, not because she needs the help. If anything, it draws equivalence between Zelda and Link in terms of their potential.

      Thank you very much for your input, Nick. I hope you come back to share more in the future!

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  3. You missed Anita's entire point which was that the implicit suggestions made in the game like Tetra becoming useless after she turns into Zelda is meant to perceive the typical feminine woman as being useless as well. It doesn't matter what the story in the game was because it still sends the same message. Arguing using the story provided in the games is stupid because what we're trying to do is critically analyze the psychological implications of women's portrayal in these games.

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    1. There are so many problems with this defense, I don't know where to start. I'll try the best I can:

      - Why do you get to decide what is feminine and what isn't? Femininity is a societal construct of what women should and shouldn't behave like. Tetra deviating from society's expectations has no bearing on how much of a woman she is, similar to how the reduction of Lara Croft's breast size makes her no less of a woman. Just because Tetra's post-transformation appearance is what society thinks she should look like doesn't make her any more or less feminine/womanly. You're sexist for suggesting otherwise.

      - Even if we were to concede on the point of femininity, then what does Ms. Sarkeesian even want? There are only four possibilities: (1) have the less feminine Zelda being useless; (2) have the more feminine Zelda being useless; (3) have the less feminine Zelda being strong; (4) have the more feminine Zelda being strong. If we go by Anita's worldview, #1 was satisfied in Phantom Hourglass, #2 was satisfied in Ocarina of Time, #3 was satisfied in Wind Waker, and #4 was satisfied in Twilight Princess (and if you don't believe that, then the upcoming Hyrule Warriors). Seriously, everything's been done. There's nothing left.

      - Of course it matters what the story in the game was. That's 1/2 of the experience: there's the gameplay, and the there's the story. Again, why do you get to decide what is or isn't important?

      - If you actually pay attention to the story while playing the game, then you shouldn't have the impression that Zelda is a useless character. You'll get the impression that fate and doom has forever cursed her to be in this position, but she is still fully capable of assisting Link, or even taking matters into her own hands, in fighting off evil. Link's success in slaying Ganon/Ganondorf, in many of the games, is contingent on Zelda's help.

      - The story itself shows, very clearly, that Zelda is a powerful, independent woman, who is simply targeted by the most powerful being in the land -- the holder of the Triforce of Power (no shit) -- because of that individual's greed.

      - Given Eiji's desire to appease Zelda fans and give them a more independent, powerful Zelda, how can you say that the events in the game are "meant to perceive the typical feminine woman as being useless?" If you perceive it that way, that's one thing, but don't try to stretch out your blanket and say that the entire point of her portrayal is intended to send that message, or that that's how all people are going to perceive it as, or even most people.

      I didn't miss Anita's "entire point," I said it was stupid and inconsistent with the facts, and evinces her lack of involvement in the story of the games she plays (the games, might I remind you, that she is paid to play). It's sickening that she tries to pass off this series as being some kind of misogynistic, psychological portrait of women, when she clearly doesn't know anything about the game beyond what she sees on its immediate surface. Talk about critical analysis, huh?

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    2. She doesn't need to look beyond the surface because most people aren't going to look beyond the surface and are just going to take things for face value. That doesn't apply to you but it applies to most people so stop being so headstrong in thinking that your understanding of the game is the same understanding that everyone else has.

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    3. Oh please, stop being stupid, or I'll be forced to make fun of you.

      You're clearly not familiar with the majority of gamers, because gamers love to look into the story beyond the surface. Why do you think Hyrule Historia was released to the public in the first place? Because there were millions of people desperately trying to comprehend the timeline of the Zelda series, and piece together the underlying stories and legends and how they all connect.

      This was probably the most hilarious thing you could have said:

      "That doesn't apply to you but it applies to most people so stop being so headstrong in thinking that your understanding of the game is the same understanding that everyone else has."

      Let me emphasize individual parts of that just to be clear as to why this is so funny:

      "It applies to most people."
      "[You think] that your understanding of the game is the same ... everyone else has."
      "Stop being headstrong."

      You literally just imposed your own understanding of the game onto the majority of people who play Zelda (the majority, because you said "most people"), and then in the same sentence, accused me of being headstrong, and of a mind projection fallacy. That's Grade A, First Class, Premium bullshit.

      And let's not forget: you insisted on this stance without offering a single rebuttal to any of the other arguments that I, or the commenters, have made. Maybe it's because it's clear that in depth knowledge of Zelda lore, and even the intentions of the game developers, shows that there was no intent to portray women as being weak?

      You're funny, and you're done here. Later.

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    4. "so stop being so headstrong"

      So much for woman empowerment.

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    5. It's almost like she's calling you bossy.

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    6. You two are just too much. :P

      But you do make good points. Suddenly I'm headstrong and deserving of insults for the simple fact that I disagreed with somebody! No argument or evidence necessary, nope, I'm just that stubborn. Bossy, even!

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    7. Alexis Delanoir: Yeah it's stupid when I say that gamers aren't usually going to look so deeply into the games they play but it's perfectly okay for you to say the opposite and state it as being true. Seriously you must be really full of yourself. Oh and the reason I didn't try to argue with all the other stuff said on this post was because I don't have the time. What I have to address every single argument from every single person for mine to be legitimate? That's stupid. I also like how you talk about you're being insulted for having a differing opinion but now I'm being ridiculed for the fact that I had a differing opinion and called you headstrong. You're all a bunch of hypocrites.

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    8. Oh, no hon, you don't get to accuse me of being hypocritical when you tried asserting a self-contradictory stance. However, you do get to see why you're being absolutely ridiculous and should probably go back to the drawing board. I'll go through it line by line:

      "Yeah it's stupid when I say that gamers aren't usually going to look so deeply into the games they play but it's perfectly okay for you to say the opposite and state it as being true."

      The difference between my statement and yours is that for mine, I provided a real world example of how invested Zelda fans are in the lore and the story behind the surface, and that was the publishing and mass purchasing of Hyrule Historia. People were incentivized to purchase the Wii U by being offered a digital download of Hyrule Historia with the new Wind Waker HD. It's something people want. You, on the other hand, just asserted it as being true without explaining why you came to that conclusion, or at the very least, why my conclusion was flawed.

      "Seriously you must be really full of yourself."

      Ah yes, because I'm a confident young woman with an argument grounded in reason, I'm full of myself! Man, what a sexist pig you are! Of course, all my mentioning of sexism in this respect is a total jab at your position on this issue. Seriously, I wish I were paid every time someone accused me of being egotistical. It shows how vacant the attic is on your end of the screen.

      "Oh and the reason I didn't try to argue with all the other stuff said on this post was because I don't have the time."

      But you did have the time to address everything else that didn't require you to make an evidential counter argument!

      "What I have to address every single argument from every single person for mine to be legitimate? That's stupid."

      No, the argument you made would have been stupid anyway. Let me reiterate: it is very uncritical and not very analytical to only be looking at the surface of a game, instead of looking deeply into the story. Your argument fell flat on its face when we looked at your premise.

      "I also like how you talk about you're being insulted for having a differing opinion but now I'm being ridiculed for the fact that I had a differing opinion and called you headstrong."

      You mean it wasn't for the fact that when I challenged you on your argument, you decided, instead of actually coming up with a coherent counter argument, to resort to:

      - Making a completely unverifiable claim (that gamers don't look deeply into the story of a game).
      - Calling me headstrong.
      - Insisting that I was imposing my perspective onto others when your entire premise was on doing that very same thing?

      Nope! It was entirely because your opinion is just different. It had nothing to do with the actual merit (or lack thereof) of your arguments, or the evident hypocrisy in your insults.

      But besides that, I thought yours (and Ms. Sarkeesian's) views were grounded in fact and critical thinking, not just mere opinion? Now it's just a differing opinion? So why bother arguing with me?

      "You're all a bunch of hypocrites."

      I'll get the smelling salts.

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    9. Personally, anonymous, I find it ironic that you called her headstrong because of how you came here:

      You said that Lex missed Anita's point which was "the implicit suggestions made in the game like Tetra becoming useless after she turns into Zelda is meant to perceive the typical feminine woman as being useless as well."

      So you, like Anita, perceived Zelda as being useless, or another way of saying that could be weak.

      The irony would be this: you don't want "typical feminine" women in games to be useless or weak, but here is a real-life woman, independent and strongly backing up her views, but you want her to "stop being so headstrong" for doing so?

      In other words, you want strong females in the virtual world, but strong females in reality are too much.

      That's all.

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    10. @Alexis I follow your blog a lot.... i absolutely love the way you refute arguments. You're very thorough and you write so eloquently. It's as if I'm reading poetry every time I read one of your arguments.

      @Anonymous (Not me) You say that gamers take everything at face value and don't look deeper into things.... so what makes you think they're going to pick up on the "implicit suggestions" of the way males and females are depicted? By doing so, they're looking deeper into things, unless you think gender roles are face value analyses, in which case, you're a sexist.

      @Mykala lol I didn't pick up on that when I read through their comments.... Yet another person on this blog whose arguments are wonderful to read. Keep up the good work..

      And to this whole post, I loved every bit of it. You really know your lore... Nice.. I'm a big fan of Zelda games myself, and I always thought it was one of the best games to go to for gender equality. Guess it's not enough for some stupid people..

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  4. I understand why when tetra turns into zelda and becomes relatively helpless someone would have a problem with it since Zelda is feminine and tetra not so much. I agree with you when you said it would make more sense to argue why in the beginning when they first made zelda why did they make the story so in a way that it forces zelda into being a damsel in distress alot. I think though the reason for it is cause back in the 1980's the entertainment industry was more cliche and so being a result of its era the damsel in distress cliche became apart of the story. I dont see a big problem with this but there are other games like league of legends and games similar that over sexualize their female characters with armor that provide no real protection but reveals their curvaceous bodies.

    Women only get sexualized like this in video games because most of the hardcore gamers are males and pretty female characters naturally will be effective at attracting male attention to these games. This is not exclusive to video games though it occurs aswell in anime, and comics too which also has a huge male audience. If most of the gaming audience were male then maybe there would be alot of male characters running around in speedos.

    Anyways I am a zelda fans as well. I have legend of zelda 1, 2, Ocarina of time, Majoras mask, Twighlight princess, and the four swords game my favorite is Ocarina of time though. Also I think maybe you should give cosplaying with your friends a try atleast once. I can tell you from experience that cosplaying at the anime conventions are fun and the atmosphere of that environment is very exciting. Its even better if you cosplay as someone you can pull off very well. I only cosplayed once As Akuma from street fighter. I didnt really think anything special about my costume and how I looked until I started to notice peoples reactions and how many people kept wanting to take a picture with me. I guess I made a very convincing Akuma since I have bronze skin and his same body type. Even if you dont have anyone you can cosplay as that you look like alot you'll still have fun most likely so I think you should give it a try.

    Finally on another note I think if your open to it since your AGNOSTIC athiest you should look into DMT, people who have had DMT experiences and meditation. I meditate and from my spiritual experiences I have seen enough to know their is a divine entity that exist aka God but I do not believe in it like most people. My beliefs are a mix of science and spirituality. The closest thing to my belief system is Gnosticism because their whole thing is becoming closer to god through themselves without the permission or guidance of the organized religion churches. Organized religion like christianity, Muslim religion, Mormonism, etc are put in peoples heads that they cannot have spiritual experiences themselves and need the church to have such experiences and to worship god. this type of thinking gives churches power and control over people similar to a government.

    P.S. Come at me Bro...err Sis

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    1. Thank you for your friendly comment, Dack! There's a lot of good stuff to cover here.

      While I can see how, at an initial glance, the portrayal of the Tetra/Zelda paradigm in Wind Waker might suggest to some people that the typical feminine woman is weak, a huge part of critical theory in this field is discussing what "femininity" means at all. In fact, the only value it has is what society gives it. Femininity is defined very differently by a wide range of cultures. But the point here is that in order to say "they portrayed the more feminine woman as weak," you have to either admit that:

      A: You, personally, differentiate between feminine and non-feminine women; or,
      B: You think that the societal definition of femininity is meaningful in critical analysis.

      Both of which are contradictory to the feminist position.

      I have to say, there is some unfair, objectifying portrayal of men in games as well, going all the way back to the NES with Altered Beast. I do admit that women tend to be sexualized more (look at the reward you got in Japan for pre-ordering No More Heroes 2); however, although there is sexualization for both. This is why I didn't take a stance against feminism altogether, because I think there are issues that do need to be solved. One of those issues is Anita Sarkeesian.

      Oh, don't get me wrong, I've definitely cosplayed before (well, somewhat... I put on a Shrek mask once with a friend of mine at Otakon and quoted from Shrek is Live, Shrek is Life, and then I've played a few anime characters as well). I'm just not interested too much in cosplaying as Zelda, because I have too much respect for the game to try to copy it with my image.

      When I call myself an agnostic atheist, I mean that I take the position that I don't think divine beings exist, but I also take the position that it is impossible for us to know for sure. In other words, I see no reason to believe it, but it'd be impossible to find a reason to believe it without dropping one of my marbles along the way. That being said, I have experimented with meditation and other things before, because while I reject the idea of "spirits," I'm open to learning the functions of different beliefs, religions and philosophies.

      Quote of the Day:

      "Imma pay you extra for that gas, whether you like it or not!" - JonTron review of Birdemic.

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    2. I agree you make a good point in saying that A&B contradict each other. I guess overall I agree with you.

      Im curious though when you say you would never cosplay as zelda because you have to much respect for the game. I mean I can understand if you wouldnt wanna cosplay as zelda because you feel like you wouldnt look right or that you had to look perfect which is why I cosplayed as Akuma and am considering doing Gajeel from the fairy tail anime only because I know I would make a good match for those characters. Your not Dark skinned (I ask cause zelda has white skin...Im not racist) or hate yourself and think you are ugly or something do you?

      I guess I could understand though if you got some self loathing thing going on cause I myself use to feel that way about myself. I guess I only got curious and asked was I never heard anyone say anything like that before but it sounds like something I would have said if my friends asked my to cosplay or dress up back some years ago. I think if you really like the character and worried about "disrespecting" the characters image then you should just get a good quality costume or make the props and costume yourself.

      Im pretty sure the person who made the game would be flattered or happy if people like you who appreciates the game like you do dress up as a zelda character especially if you can pull it off and have white skin like zelda. I cant even dress up as my favorite games character thats also my favorite fictional character Sephiroth from Final Fantasy 7. I got the long hair but Im a bronze skinned native american so dressing as him wouldnt fit too well.

      Anyways sense Your pretty much open to learning about different cultures and religions I recommend you look at this documentary called "DMT The Spirit Molecule". Its really interesting and if you like it and appreciate it you should try to get some dmt and take it. If you experience anything like I experienced it might broaden your perspective about god and religion. If you cant get your hands on DMT I think shrooms or Cannabis is the next best thing. I had my experience while using Cannabis and also Sober but if you use cannabis you should ingest it not smoke it cause it doesnt really give you the whole spiritual awakening feeling when you smoke it.

      Qoute of the year: FUCK NO! Aint nothing gay about getting your dick sucked. Youre the ones thats gay for sucking my dick. In fact, creeps me out just being around you fags. - Big Bob from Harold & Kumar 2

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    3. Hahahaha I understood what you meant. Expecting Zelda to be white isn't racist. At any rate, it's none of the reasons you listed. I'm, for the most part, confident in my appearance, and in fact I think I might be a good match for Zelda. I just personally don't think I would be doing her any justice to dress up as her, no matter how high quality the costume would be. It's just a personal preference I guess -- not meant to be rooted in totally sound logic. I definitely understand what you mean by supporting the game developers, though. I suppose if Nintendo released a line of costumes for a Zelda cosplay, similar to how the developers of Deus Ex: Human Revolution released a trench coat like Adam Jensen's, then I would buy it to support them. I'll consider it anyway, though. Thanks for pushing me to think about my decisions. :)

      I, personally, don't do any kind of drugs like that. I already drink, and even with that, I don't drink hard liquor. That's enough for me. I'd also like to think that if I did take it, I wouldn't let my unusual thoughts and hallucinations get the best of me and overtake my worldview. If I need to take a psychedelic to change my worldview... that speaks for itself, for me personally. Everyone is different though.

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    4. Yea I kinda got this thing that if I think I can help someone see things from a different point of view or really just think a little and help them out any way I can mentally then I try to do what I can which is why I was so curious about the whole cosplaying thing.
      You dont necessarily need to take a psychedelic to change your world view but you can take it to open your self up to a new way of thinking or the possibility that there is more too this reality than what we see. When you take it though I guess you would have to be sane enough to know a difference between hallucinating and having a spiritual experience but if youre completely skeptical and not open about these things or anything unfamiliar I doubt you'll experience what many spiritualist experience.

      Its nothing like the feeling of being drunk. Alcohol is literally toxic to your body and when you drink enough of it it will impair you mentally and physically. Cannabis and weed impairs you sometimes but not in the same way but if your gonna be driving or doing some type of work that requires focus and motor skills you shouldnt take it before hand. Oh and DMT and Cannabis are not drugs they are natural plants. DMT that is smoked generally comes from ayahuasca Although DMT is literally in every living thing and the body produces its own DMT Ayahuasca plant just has a abundance of it.

      The whole spiritual thing is a good Humbler. It helped me realize ego and pride were useless and since this realization I've reduced my daily stress level significantly which was a huge problem. Im not tryna force my ideals or beliefs on you or anything just saying maybe if you are open enough to try it then maybe you should. You could also look up this guy who sungazes that has gained amazing Spiritual abilities that N.A.S.A. observed and confirmed to be true.

      that this thing that is so foreign to me just might be possible or have some truth to it you If you look enough and think just maybe what I believe isnt true or isnt the whole truth or might like what you find but I do think that this kinda stuff isnt for everyone.

      I've never been a blog person but I like having intelligent conversations with people and do alot with my friends although it is hard to find people that I can have one with in "Murica". So I am sorry if I seem like im tryna force ideas in your head or something. Anyways you are clearly a very weird person which isnt bad it just means youre not a brain dead idiot like everyone else. So I congratulate you on your weirdness.........HAPPY WEIRD DAY (\_/)

      "Im a retarded trolling Bastard" -Dack "the swack Lazy

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    5. Just to be clear, I never felt that you were imposing your views and ideas on me. You just seem very solidly founded in this idea, and I very much respect that, because you're polite and clear about it. However, in order to prevent this from devolving into an argument over what are drugs and what aren't drugs, and which drugs are better or worse, I'm going to have to conclude my participation in the discussion. :P

      Thank you very much for your insight and help, though. I look forward to your next visit, and our next exchange.

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  5. Ever notice how all seven sages in a Link to the Past, and five out of the seven sages in Ocarina of Time, were females?

    I think it's incredible how someone can take a series that was so amazing, and if anything showed patriarchy to be a negative thing, and make it out to be sexist. It's almost insulting to think that somehow, in the Kingdom of Hyrule, where it's often ruled by matriarchy, that women are depicted in the more negative light... How about the fact that men, by and large, are depicted in the most negative light (Ganondorf, Ghirahim, Yuga, Demise, Vaati, Zant, etc.)? Heck, even when you go to Lon Lon Ranch, Talon is depicted as the lazy worker, Ingo as the evil usurper, and Malon as the sweet, kindhearted girl.

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    1. Very good points all around! I've added them all to the list and given you credit. You're right, it's a shame when it seems nothing can appease the more radical feminists when it comes to these things... It seems that everything is going to be sexist in one way or another.

      By the way, I love the name you chose!

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  6. Hi Alexis. I'm a big fan of everything that happens when you're in front of a keyboard of the words variety or otherwise. I had a comment I tried, but failed, to post. I lost a few hours work. It was thoughtful and well organized. It was highly relevant to the topic of your post. It was a thing of beauty. This post is my consolation prize.

    Unfortunately, I'm all out of time at the moment, but I intend to add to this conversation when I am next able. In the meantime, Zelda puns.

    I'm not a fan of Ms. Sarkeesian's particular form of Vitreous. I mean vitriol. It really gets my Goht.

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    1. Hi Aaron! I saw you shared this post on Google+, and I'm glad you stopped by to comment, although I'm sorry you lost your work. I'm not sure if it's my blog or just Blogger altogether, but recently I've had many issues with both myself and others making comments and losing their work. I'll add to the commenting message warning people.

      As for your puns, very clever. You should write more. ;P

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    2. Oh well, writing another draft never really hurt anyone as far as I know. My issue was in not knowing that I have to sign in here separately from G+. Pages got reloaded, text boxes got refreshed, swear words were exclaimed. Now I just have to be busy for a few days before I can really write it out again.

      If you like the puns, I guess I could goron and think up a few more. But I Impa-lore you: dodongo thinking I only know how to be silly and irreverent. That would be a Barinade to effective communication.

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    3. XD Boo to the Barinade pun.

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    4. Darknuts. I knew it was a stretch, but thought I'd slip it in on the off chance you'd like-like it. I guess I'd better leever the puns alone before they become more obnoxious than funny. The thing I meant to write will soon be forthcoming, anyway.

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  7. So here it is, my reworked comment. Your thorough exposure of Ms. Sarkeesian as more poser than gamer certainly gets props from me. This is tangential at best, but I've been stewing over atheism and feminism myself for a while. I've got some thoughts based on observation that I think you may find interesting. It's a work in progress, so if you detect any problems with what I say or the thinking behind it, please make me aware of them.

    Since you mentioned it, and because it's important, I consider myself to be simply non-religious. If I really want to put the edge on it, I may say I'm not superstitious. The word 'atheism' carries a weight with it. It's a religious word, and means different things to different people. Atheists that I've listened to generally describe atheism as the lack of belief in a god or gods. Religious people, on the other hand, generally describe atheism as a lack of faith. The best way for a religion to prevent people from lacking belief is to make the concept anathema to its followers (i.e. heretics, blasphemers, heathens, etc.).

    I would describe faith as belief without need for evidence. Acknowledging faith as a thing is important to consider. Faith is the thing that creates the god and spurs the dogma. It's the essence of gullibility and delusion. It's the opposite of reason, and it's by no means confined to any god. What then, is the difference between a religion and any other delusional conviction?

    Beneath the veneer of the pointless moniker is a religion, or at least something that is identically similar to one; a full-blown cult of victim-hood. Anita Sarkeesian is not merely a charlatan. She's also a propagandist and a preacher. She raised six figures on Kickstarter to make the Tropes vs Women in Video Games series. Her organization is non-profit and tax free. She makes her living on the good will and support of those who agree with her sermons. She's not attempting to persuade; she's attempting to teach. Her videos are “educational.” She makes victims of women exactly as a preacher makes sinners of their congregations.

    Let me give a quick example. Instead of thinking of “#BanBossy” as a literal attempt to strike the word from the English language (when it refers to a woman), put it in the context of a person who has faith that words have a real physical impact on the well-being of women. Never mind that this mindset inherently means that women are incapable of coping with free speech. If such a person wants to help women, they would strike the word from their own personal lexicon, and may criticize others for not doing so.

    Sarkeesian's message teaches that women are always turned into an object, a plaything for men. In the game of Patriarchy, women aren't the opposing team, they are the ball. Zelda was her positive example. The fact that she participates at all is progress. She likes the fact that Zelda is generally active in the story until she gets kidnapped. Her favorite versions of Zelda are the tomboy and the male persona. She seems to like the versions that are the most masculine, if that term is still allowed. She hated both times she turned into princess Zelda. Useless, useless princess Zelda. Gets a gold star for helping. (to snarkily paraphrase)

    I don't know to what degree Ms. Sarkeesian is removed from the core movement, but it is important to be aware that zealots exist. Some versions of equality may not be the same as yours. In the video, Sarkeesian did say one thing that I find I do agree with: People don't want to play feminist games. They want to play good games.

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    1. Ah, yes! I've been waiting for your comment for some time now. Thank you for your praise, and I'd be glad to look over this for you. Actually, the introduction to your post sounds a lot like some thoughts I have in my mind -- I plot them out, but it takes a few logical proofs, peer-review, a research grant and a shot to make sure it all works out. If you don't mind my saying this, I'm flattered that you put so much effort into this post, and decided to run it by me.

      I think edge isn't really a concern here. One can be non-religious but also believe in divine beings. My thoughts are this: one should not simply abandon a means of identification just because it has become unfavorably, in the broad spectrum of things, to do so. One should not stop identifying themselves as a feminist just because there are radicals that bring a bad image to the identity, or because there are radicals on the opposite end shouting at you. If we were to abandon every word that carries a negative connotation or a word that were misconstrued, then it would give such great control to our detractors, who are the majority, that it would become impossible to comfortably hold our stances at all.

      I agree with your stance on faith, but I'd like to propose an amendment. Faith, in itself, is not necessarily bad. We place our faith in things all the time, whether it be when we're signing our agreement to employer-provided health insurance, or telling somebody "I wish you didn't have to deal with this." The difference is whether or not we acknowledge what we're doing as being outside of rational thinking. That's where religion becomes faulty: it asserts as fact and as rational, that which is not so.

      That being said, I have to agree with you very adamantly in the connection between the dishonest preachings of religion and the religion of radical feminism, where people like Anita Sarkeesian are at the forefront, chanting to the congregation. People like Ms. Sarkeesian and, as another example, Suey Park are incredibly dangerous, because they don't exclusively purport themselves to be activists who are simply expressing their thoughts, and are looking for open discussion. Instead, these individuals grant themselves educator status and assert what they say as fact, and leave no room for falsifiability. I wouldn't have written this blog post had Ms. Sarkeesian had an open table discussion over her arguments, but she doesn't. People are paying money for her to assert things that are provably flawed as being true, and then to silence all dissent. This is no different than the institution of religion, especially given what else you said: tax exemption for preaching falsehood.

      I wrote a post on the BanBossy movement as well, so this personally struck me. I do have to say that you're treading a fine line here: the difference between typical religion and the religion of radical feminism, concerning BanBossy, is that they purport to be discussing things that are observable in this situation. They claim that Bossy has displayable effects on women. Of course, this isn't true, but at the very least they're making falsifiable claims. Religion takes a different stance: they make claims about that which cannot be observed, and thus it's much more difficult to convince people of how wrong it is.

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    2. I'm not even so sure Ms. Sarkeesian liked Tetra or Sheik the best, because as I said in the comments above, it seems that every possible combination has been tested, and no matter what, she has an issue with it. The truth is, she doesn't have a preference. She doesn't have a favorite. She just is incapable of thoroughly enjoying the things she puts in front of her, because she's always going to throw it in front of her raging feminist goggles: "Scanning for Sexism."

      In much the same way that a Republican representative in America has to run a policy through their head to see if it aligns with their political party, or how a religious zealot may have to run a scientific study through their chapel to see if it's blasphemous.

      Before I give my conclusion, I have to say that I applaud you for the connection. It was pretty good, and while I'm going to go out on a limb and say this probably isn't going to have any practical effect, it definitely has a mental one. Well done.

      Now, to conclude, there is something I want more than just a good game. There's something I want more than a game that hasn't been touched by extremist social activism. What I want, in all honesty, is for people like Ms. Sarkeesian to shut the hell up. What kind of person am I talking about, though? I'm talking about the kind of person who is so arrogant to think that their field of study (case in point: feminist philosophy) is so all-encompassing that it can touch up on absolutely everything else (art, gaming, science, politics, history, etc.). Someone needs to tell people like Ms. Sarkeesian to get off their high horse and adopt humility.

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  8. In Skyward Sword, in Zelda's speech to Link, it's revealed that the goddess was using Zelda's apparent danger and Link's care for Zelda in order to draw him to save her, and to fulfill his destiny. Most telling, Zelda says "I used you." This shows that Link's actions are being manipulated by a goddess, and actually explains the "damsel in distress" thing. The whole time, Zelda was perfectly safe, and in the protective hands of Impa (who is, herself, a very strong female character), but Link didn't know this.

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    1. Wow, that was really insightful! I'll add it to the list.

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