Yesterday I progressed a little further into Metal Gear Solid 3 (I didn’t get far, as I spent a lot of time being lost and going the wrong way into the jungle) and I encountered some sequences in the game that seem entirely unnecessary and are quite exploitative of women.
Almost as soon as the character Eva is introduced she is sexualized almost to the point of belittling her character. As she is first introduced to Snake, for some unknown reason she unzips her coveralls to expose her chest. There doesn’t seem to be any logical reason for her to do this. You could argue that maybe she is trying to seduce Snake to get him to follow along with her plans, but is exposing skin the only way a woman can be attractive? Hardly.
During this same sequence the player is prompted to press a button to see through Snake’s eyes, and his focus is rather inappropriate.
As long as the player holds R1 the image above is all the player will see. It’s as if her physical features are the only thing of any importance.
The sexualization and exploitation of Eva continues for many scenes to come. In a scene where Snake is waking from rest the player is yet again prompted to press a button to view through Snake’s eyes, and this time Eva is exploited even further during a voyeur scene.
Kojima isn’t done yet. Moments later Eva is felt up by another character who discovers she is a woman as his hand lingers on her chest.
He not only rests his hand on her chest, he squeezes as if he needs further confirmation that his hostage is a woman. From there he sniffs her neck and rattles off a derogatory phrase.
Maybe Ocelot is a chauvinist, and a complete jerk, but during all of this Snake doesn’t even bat an eye. He makes no attempt to stand up for Eva, nor does he allow her to kill Ocelot after the ordeal, stating that he’s “still young.”
Despite all of the sexualization and exploitation, at least Eva isn’t portrayed as entirely helpless. Ultimately she’s the one who breaks free from Ocelot (after Snake foils his plan), but Snake still interferes and almost defends Ocelot’s actions by writing him off as young and dumb.
The entire introduction of Eva was uncomfortable, especially after seeing how another female character, Quiet, is treated in Metal Gear Solid V.
I haven’t played enough Metal Gear Solid V to encounter Quiet myself yet, but I’ve heard a lot about how her character is presented in the game and it seems that Kojima’s portrayal of female characters hasn’t progressed at all since Metal Gear Solid 3. Much like Eva, Quiet is shown wearing very little clothing without much apparent reason.
Not only is Quiet a combatant dressed in hardly any clothes, but she is also sexualized throughout the game via disturbing camera angles and a shower scene in which male characters try to watch her shower.
As much as I’ve enjoyed playing Metal Gear Solid 3 and V so far, I can’t quite swallow the way female characters are exploited in the games. Does it happen on TV and in film all the time? Sure, but the sexualization of women in video games too often feels entirely unnecessary and wildly inappropriate. It’s just not cool.