This depiction of women makes me extremely uncomfortable

Dragon's Crown AmazonTake a look at the image here. What do you think when you see it?

To me, there’s something horribly wrong with it, and it’s not because women aren’t supposed to have a ton of muscle mass — although I’m not sure quite that much is natural.

I’m more appalled by how oppressive it is.

This is the Amazon character from an upcoming game called Dragon’s Crown, made by Japanese developer Vanillaware, which is well respected for its beautiful visual style. I’ve played one of its other games, Odin Sphere, and witnessed how the art seems to “breathe” onscreen.

But the context is perhaps irrelevant. My question is, what is this image saying — not just in its lines and colors but about us?

The Penny-Arcade Report and Kotaku, which discussed several relevant issues, pointed out the petite face that seems so strange on her body. She’s still passive — submissive — even though she’s supposed to be “strong” physically.

I’m not even sure she’s that. Her gargantuan breasts, her massive thighs and butt — she’s barely wearing anything, yet there’s so much of her. She’s clearly designed as a plaything for male gaze, which is cruel enough. The designer seems to have cared little about the implications: how walking around so hugely disproportioned would be tremendously painful. She must forge into battle regardless.

However, the meanest aspect is the question of whether she’s pleasing the typical heterosexual male at all. She’s trapped under her own body weight, which makes her more of a prisoner than her oversexualized female parts alone, but it’s almost a joke. I don’t believe — based on preferred depictions of women in both American and Japanese cultures — that the target audience would find her desirable. They would reject her. In turn, she loses her only intended purpose: to arouse.

That’s disturbing. It’s unsettling. It makes me feel really bad in the pit of my stomach.

Is this a new low in how we view women, or have I just not been paying close enough attention?

To kick off the discussion, here are a few tweets from my fellow gamers on Twitter:

@WanyoDos: I feel like the characters are meant to be so over-the-top that it’s hyper unrealistic to the point where it’s not really attractive

@empuska: It’s disturbing in “Too closet to make it actual porn, but trying to make it absurd with same assumption”-way.

@SnakeLinkSonic: I can’t see it appealing aesthetically to any audience other than a niche there.