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Author Topic: Dumb things pop-culture critics say: Battlefield V & Female Soldiers  (Read 340 times)

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Offline kat

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Quote
"Women didn't fight in World War II"

Fact check: Women did not fight in World War II.
Checked as: False.

The purpose of rhetorically loaded questions like 'did women fight during World War II' is to frame arguments so opposition is impossible or seen as indefensible, the answers given, whatever they may be, how factually accurate or grounded in reality they are, simply do not matter because the question, or statement, is rhetorical, not meant to be queried or answered. When understanding and knowledge, educating (of self or others), is not the goal, objecting in any sense is to deny the statement, and its makers, veracity and rhetorical absolutism; some women did fight, so women fought, their contributions to combat are equal to and no less valid than men's, so no argument is to be had.

This rhetorical assertion is false, but again this never mattered.

At the heart of this argument is a motte and bailey fallacy (castle/keep) in which a contentious proposition (motte/keep) is defended by an easier one - the degree to which the argument might be true bailey/castle); because A is true so too is B. So, did women fight during the war, yes; did women volunteer to fight or were they conscripted, yes; therefore, women fought during the war (castle), the degree to which this might have occurred, or its significance, being irrelevant (keep).

There are caveats to these points that, as is always the case with history, require those arguing females fought during the war ignore and dismiss inconvenient truths, especially when brought to their attention, the ideologically inconsistent and broader realities warfare presents[1], that the vast majority of those 'fighting' (or whatever synonym might be used to describe militarised armed combat), and dying, were and still are, male[2].

The argument then is not whether women fought, it's that they were not specifically involved in combat, they did not fight as uniform soldiers (more on this below, Ed.), which means the objection to female characters in games like Battlefield V become one of being thematic accuracy to this fact and the period being represented in the game, a rationale upon which these games are/were ostensibly sold, inclusion of any kind then being a matter of thematic fidelity or *cough*"accuracy"*cough* to the period portrayed (cf. Battlefield I controversy).

With that said, if not ignored as is suggested above, answering a rhetorical question in a way that stimulates actual discussion typically elicits the inevitable and predictable rhetorical rebuttal; "well what about the female Soviet snipers, or the female French resistance?"[3].

Well, what about them?.

Of the estimated 450,000 snipers the Soviets used throughout the war less than 1% of the overall total, approximately 2,500, were female[4]. Does the background to this matter, their inclusion being a concession that addressed differences of opinion between Soviet military brass (traditionalists) and Party leadership (progressives) - female snipers serviced the combat requirement demanded by Stalin[5] but kept them off/away from front line combat[6] as favoured by Soviet military brass, both attitudes being part of a greater compromise that had the Soviets desperate to recoup numbers lost early on to Germany on the Eastern Front. Interestingly however, per-capita, female snipers were awarded more medals, received more commendations, for their actions than their male counterparts[7] which may have more to do with propaganda than disproportionate bravery or knack for staying alive.

Similarly, of the estimated 500,000 French Resistance active towards the latter part of the War, approximately 10-20% were female[8], most of whom, like other resistance groups, spent more time fighting each other (for ideological motivated reasons) than they did the occupying German army. Given the nature of the resistance it's not known exactly how many engaged in actual combat or fought, all that is know is that some did engage their respective enemies[9].

At face value, whilst all of this does mean some women unquestionably fought during World War II, it would be disingenuous at the very least, even insulting to the memory of the millions of men and boys who stepped-up, fought and died, to suggest the War as relates to combat, was in any sense a female fight as the question rhetorically implies.

And to show just how absurd the argument, and dirty War, actually is, the same sentiments can in fact be said of children fighting during the War, school-aged minors under 18 conscripted or forcibly 'volunteered' into combat, the most egregious perhaps being the Japanese Imperial Army's[10] juvenile suicide bombers, or Germany's Hitler Youth[11], used extensively during the defense of Berlin as it fell. In other words, more children engaged in enemy combat than women, does this then justify the inclusion and exploitation of child soldiers in popular media and entertainment. Or extending the argument still further, more people of different ethnicities fought than women, so there should be more BAME representation in games before that of females.

This is the inherent absurdism of the argument - when and to what degree is the question answered, and by whom. The futility of pandering to demands made of it mean, rather than finding a way to introduce female characters to Battlefield V in a way the user-base would understand and appreciate, EA-Dice chose instead to insert them front-and-centre with little (rational) explanation, gamers then being told they were bigots, racists, ableists[12], misogynists, anti-women by some vocal members of EA-Dice, boosted by click-hungry games press[13], and egged on by social media activists and cultural critics.

Unfortunately for those engaged in this sort of bullying, and it is bullying, railing back at the criticisms with the specious counter-narrative addressed above, this only proved gamers correct; the characters inclusion had little to do with improving the game and was instead a direct response to external non-stakeholder forces[14] and in clear deference to servicing faux 'dialogue' obfuscating an ideological agenda.
 
Put more plainly, EA-Dice chose to pander to the demands of outsiders who care little for games except their being an avenue to hijack[15] for their own political and cultural purposes, insulting customers from whose purchase's salaries are paid. Low pre-orders, conflicts with other games, release-date pushback[16], drops in stock price[17], and parting ways of those involved[18] will tell if doing this is ultimately a good move.

Further Reading
- Dumb things pop-culture critics say: video games cause violence.
- Dumb things pop-culture critics say: boys don't like female soldiers.
- Violence against males in games doesn't count... another study that 'proves' it.
- Men harassed online more but like, seriously, it's not about them - Pew 2017.
- The dark side of diversity: "positive discrimination" (reverse discrimination).



Footnotes:
[1] A great deal of the controversy surrounding BFV kicked-off when one of the projects design directors (Alan Kertz) was widely reported to have suggested publicly the inclusion of female characters was not to improve the game but head-off what appears to be a rhetorical/theoretical situation involving his daughters concerns about female soldiers in games - "I knew this was going to be a fight when I pushed for female soldiers in Battlefield. I have a daughter, and I don't want to ever have to answer her question of 'why can't I make a character that looks like me?' with 'because you're a girl'. I fundamentally feel to my core this [forced female inclusion] is the right way, and I will find myself on the right side of history.". Notwithstanding the apparent advocation of under-aged and inappropriate gaming, rather than help his (young?, uneducated?, illiterate?) daughter understand why, give her tools of discovery and understanding, he chose to redefined history to fit his (not hers) ideologically distorted world view, one that requires adherents ignore the real world in favour of personal fictions and imaginings no-one can argue against ("they are my lived experience"), a particularly odious example of someone in a position of power and authority using the 'personal is the political' principle as leverage to unduly influence others without argument, agreement or consent. Not only is this a disservice to his daughter, it also fundamentally disrespects others contributions to the conversation because they proffer disagreeable sentiments.

[2] The incontrovertible truth of biology and nature and how they relate to history and warfare is simply that women are more valuable to society than men because population numbers can be replenished far more quickly with few men than with few women - throughout history civilizations in the latter situation died because they were not stabilised soon enough after significant reductions, by warfare, pandemics, natural events etc. Over time, hundreds-of-thousands of years, this biological reality has always governed fe/male species relationships whether it passes the sniff-test of a given ideology developed in better times.

[3] It's worth noting these two examples constantly crop up in almost every instance of discussing this topic because they're easily defendable talking points, the motte (keep) to the larger bailey (castle). In furtherance to the initial rhetorical question, this new rhetorical statement is not being asked for educational purposes, but instead to substitute an ill-informed rote proposition that filters subtleties with a singular assertion that cannot be argued against.

[4] To put this number in to greater context, the Soviet armed forces are estimated to have been some 34,000,000 individuals, of which snipers constitute around 8% of the total (c.450,000), female snipers being c.0.01% of that same total.

[5] Soviet Party politics were such that all citizens were supposed to be subject to the same requirements, obligations and demands the party might make, if soldiers were needed women should be as subject to conscription as men - service therefor not being a question of ability but allegiance.

[6] Much of the Soviets top-brass in the military were grounded in what might be considered traditionalist, Tsarists or pre-revolutionary mid-to-late 19th Century thinking, that women were to be kept off the battlefield for very real and practical reasons (cf. fn.1 above).

[7] Despite Soviet Brass and Party leaders being at loggerheads over the inclusion of women in the military, once it happened officials seized the opportunity to propagandise greater female participation in society at large, not for the individuals good but instead through their contributions as a group. For the sniper this meant the medals, awards and commendations were to show women being equally as capable as men, thus equally able to secure Soviet rule and expansion. In other words, it was not about women, it was about Party allegiance at a time the Soviets were still reeling from the Revolution and first World War.

[8] Rates of female inclusion and participation in resistance groups across Europe vary a great deal because concise records were rarely kept, so today, depending on source, the same information outlet may cite different numbers depending on inherent politically biases. For example, the subsection of the main Wikipedia article on the French resistance dedicated to women, "French Resistance - Women", cites 11% participation rate whereas associated with the 'feminism portal', "Women in the French Resistance", 15-20% is cited. What's missing from this are the reasons why those numbers may be relatively high; men being otherwise conscripted to fight or assist the German occupation depending on their being for or against it.

[9] The French resistance was not as unified fighting force as romanticised in popular culture, many were variants of Socialists, Communists, Marxists, Revolutionaries, which more often than not, meant they were more likely to fight and sabotage each other's efforts than that of the German threat, all in vein attempts at political, ideological supremacy. Such in-fighting caused so much strife to the Allied efforts in fact, the British stopped assistance drops (weapons, intelligence, supplies etc.) because it was more often put to unintended use, resistance groups fighting one another instead of the German war machine.

[10] The Imperial Army is known to have 'forced' schools (coerced compliance through threats of severe penalties and punishments) to 'volunteer' children for combat, minors between the ages of 14 and 17, many of whom saw combat.

[11] By the start of the War nearly 9,000,000 boys and girls were part of the Hitler Youth, most being later conscripted to fight. Towards the end of the War many were still fighting, some of whom defended Berlin as it fell.

[12] The character was given a prosthetic mechanical arm similar to designs befitting the period.

[13] Typical click-bait sensationalism aside, who may or may not be sympathetic to the cause at hand.

[14] EA chief creative officer (CCO) Patrick Soderlund: "And we don't take any flak. We stand up for the cause, because I think those people who don't understand it, well, you have two choices: either accept it or don't buy the game. I'm fine with either or. It's just not ok." (emphasis added) [source], a statement that may have been partly responsible for Battlefield V's poor numbers at time of writing (late August).

[15] Originally a creation of corporations as a means to promote brand awareness, Culture-Jacking has since been co-opted by activists to become a useful tool in the 'any means necessary' arsenal to inject alternative narratives into popular culture, bypassing traditional means of transmission and distribution, but also their testing and validation, especially necessary for ideas with the potential to change society.

[16] "An Update on Battlefield V [release date]"
   
[17] "Electronic Arts Stock Is Tanking on a 'Battlefield' Fail" et al.

[18] Patrick Soderlund and others apparently within the team developing Battlefield V, and source to much of the controversy, have left the EA-Dice. The fact that parties leaving were all involved in the ongoing debacle perhaps speaks to their being fired rather than their choosing to part ways amicably.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: Dumb things pop-culture critics say: Battlefield V & female soldiers
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2018, 10:34:17 PM »
interesting and well said kat.

 

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