Let me start this off with an incident that inspired this topic:
I used to work at a game store and on this particular day a woman (average middle-aged soccer mom-type) came into the store with her son (looked to be about 10-12 yrs old) to buy him a game for his birthday. So I was helping them out by explaining about different games, prices and whatever. At one point the kid comes across Red Dead Redemption and asks if he can have it. The mother asks me about it and I explain.
Me: "Well it's a really good western game but it is rated Mature. There's a lot of violence, blood, and bad language. It's basically what you would expect to find in an R rated movie."
The mom: "Oh, well, maybe it will be alright..."
Me: "There's also a quick sex scene in the middle of the game with nudity. It shows exposed breasts. Just to let you know."
The Mom: "What? Really?? In a game? Well then I think that's definitely a 'No'."
At this point I really have no problem with anything that's going on. The mother is saying no to her kid playing an M rated game, that's her prerogative. Parents get decide what they do or don't want to have their kids exposed to.
So they decide to keep looking around and I go back to doing something behind the counter. A little later they come up to me holding a different game. The kid hands me a copy of Mortal Kombat. My first thought is 'Sorry, kid but there's no way your mom is going to say yes to this if she turned down Red Dead Redemption'.
Usually I'll just read off the back ESRB rating panel to a parent to let them know about a games content but with Mortal Kombat I always feel the need to be more explicit just so a parent 100% knows what they're buying for their kid. My spiel went something like this:
"Just to let you know, ma'am. This is an extremely violent game. It has graphic depictions of people being dismembered and beaten. There is a lot of blood and gore. It's probably the most violent video game we have in the store."
But to my surprise the mother answers with:
"Oh. But there's no nudity in it, right?"
Well, no. But...
"It's fine. I guess I'll be the cool mom now!"
I don't know why the incident surprised me so much or stuck in my head. I know that in general American culture is much more accepting of violence and not so accepting of nudity. But for whatever reason what happened there really resonated with me. I started thinking about how I've acted myself.
I have two young nieces that I take care of frequently. I thought about how I've treated them. I noticed I've done the same thing with them that the mom did with her son. I'm OK with them watching somewhat violent shows or games but if something sexual related comes on I'm quick to change it.
But why? Why is it so much worse to see a woman's nipple than to see a man beaten bloody? Of course the answer is 'It's Not'. Society tends to set our morals and values. Obviously other countries have different takes on these issues. Nudity and violence are seen differently outside of the good ole' US of A. Some more permissive. Some more restrictive.
I don't really feel like arguing the merits or disadvantages of violence and sex in the media. In my personal opinion every adult should be allowed to watch whatever they want. Ultra violence. Ultra sex. Whatever floats your boat (excluding anything that involves anyone being hurt that doesn't want to be hurt). But the point I am trying to make is about critical thinking and self reflection.
What everyone needs a little more of is some time to really think about why we do what we do. If we're condemning something or restricting it's availability, is it being done so for good reason? Or are we doing it with only the rational that it's 'wrong' or 'sick'? If you want to crusade for the ban of sex in video games, go for it. But do so with good reasoning.
It's something that can be applied to more things than video games. If you despise a certain type of game/person/media/book/movie take a little time to think about why it is you truly dislike it. Is it a justified dislike? Or is it simply a knee jerk reaction to some perceived moral wrong? The only way to stop ignorant behavior is to be less ignorant ourselves and to truly think about our actions and motivations.
(My first post btw. Feel free to post thoughts about the topic or corrections about the article in general.)