I wasn’t aware that strong, sexually empowered women are in fact a demeaning social trope.
If you had ever played the games, or even mildly researched them, you’d know that Bayonetta is both highly sexualized for the benefit of the viewer AS WELL as being sexually empowered for herself. If you want to hate the former, you have to hate the latter, and that’s rather misogynistic, don’t you think?
Also, just gonna toss this out there: Bayonetta’s designer, Mari Shimazaki, has said that she designed Bayonetta as a power fantasy for herself and that Bayonetta’s personality and attitude is “what she aspires to be more like” because she wants to feel sexy for her own sake, not society’s and also she’s tired of women being both expected to and being shamed for trying to look beautiful. She simply wants to feel powerful, but also beautiful.
See thing is this shit is actually pretty complicated.
In the same way that we have to be mindful that games are designed by people (someone designed, scripted and coded all those scenes shown in Tropes Vs Women, whether you think they’re ‘cherry picked’ or not); we must also remember that multiple people work on a single title, and the politics of a game can come from many sources.
I LOVE Shimazaki’s work. You can tell that she works in a lot of love for high fashion as well as her own preferences of what it means to look cool, sexy and dangerous.
There are some very convincing readings of Bayonetta 1 that represent Bayonetta the character and the game’s plot as something feminist and empowering (you are, after all taking on a patriarchal cult using the very tools that were used to oppress you and your kind); but that reading requires death of the author to work.
Because (unfortunately, IMO), Hideki Kamiya is a thing. For all that Mari Shimazaki says, for all of the empowering academic readings you can find, Hideki Kamiya has pretty much never talked about Bayonetta as a character without mentioning how much of a sex object she is. That’s sex object, not like, sexual force of nature or anything.
Any designs or opinions Shimazaki has are filtered through Kamiya to appear in the end project. His opinions are almost literally final.
If you’ve looked through the Bayonetta 1 art book (It’s called The Eyes of Bayonetta, it has like, 50 pages of Shimazaki costume design and SMH if you’re a fan of this game and don’t have it), there is a notable discord between Shimazaki talking about her design decisions, and Kamiya talking about why he asked for certain design decisions.
There’s a particularly gross part where he talks about how he insisted that there be an alternate costume for Bayo that’s Japanese school gym clothes (y’know, those super anime short-shorts that real JP schools no longer have students wear because it’s too pedo), and roped the 3D modeller to make a whole bunch of renders of it for Kanmiya to wear on t-shirts.
The funny side of this being the 3D modeller also states in the book that he had to break model’s rigging to get Bayo into the poses Kamiya wanted. Escher Girls was right, yo.
Then there’s that whole thing where Kamiya in an interview said that the Vs Joy scene in Bayo 1 was there because he thought that women, even strangers, were inherently competitive against each other. Oh boy.
I REALLY like Bayonetta. It’s one of my favourite games ever. I wish I also had those glasses and gun heels. But it would be a bald-faced fucking lie to think that aesthetic design decisions aren’t heavily grounded in what gives straight dudes (or at least what gives Kamiya) a chubby.