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Binders Full of Women: Collecting All the Ladycards in The Witcher – part 7

September 13, 2014

Previously on Ladycards: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6.

 

They have a very sexy cow in Murky Waters, the tiny, rural village you find yourself in for the duration of Chapter 4. The peasants are devoted to their cow, and dedicate themselves to her every need, guarding her jealously and evangelising about her voluptuous udder. They seem to take less care of their daughters, who keep wandering off and getting killed. Quick, better screw some of them first!

17. Celina

I can’t get over how tired and resigned Gundam sounds when he agrees to fuck Celina purely so she can annoy her sister. Actual dialogue:

Celina: “Ooh, how I despise her… She’ll not have you! I’ll give myself to you right now, on the nearest rock!”

Geralt: [In tones of utter defeat] “Oh, all right.”

Then she insists you give her a ring anyway, because as with Noblewoman, the game refuses to follow through on the idea of Gendarme having sex with a woman as a favour to her. It has to be framed as a challenge to be overcome with the right gift, even when Giraffe himself doesn’t seem even slightly into it. It’s as if he’s sick of all this sex too, but knows it’s his job. C’mon dude, lie back and think of the player’s softporn sticker collection.

Celina is jealous of her sister Alina, who is getting married. Later, this culminates in Celina killing Alina, before being murdered herself. Both sisters then become wraiths haunting the fields. We have here two themes that we’ve seen before: female jealousy and female monsterism, and in this case, one has led directly to the other.

Alina in her Going Away outfit.

The trope of a young woman killed on, or just before, her wedding day returning as a ghost or monster is a really old and widespread one. It’s easy to understand why. In ages when the primary goal and function of women was to get married, the death of a bride represents something hugely tragic and pathetic – a woman who had almost attained her ultimate purpose, and then was thwarted by death. The blood from their murders parodies the blood they “should” have spilled losing their virginities on their wedding nights (note the placement on Alina’s dress above: coincidence?). Their sexual frustration expresses itself as monstrous rage and ghostly attacks upon the living, especially “successful” brides, of whom they are jealous (that theme again).

While we can see the sexism involved in the trope, its use isn’t necessarily sexist. It’s a folk-tale element, and I really like this kind of thing. It’s also unfair to blame women for being “obsessed with marriage” if they’re living in a society that presents it to them as literally the only way they can be happy and valuable. When Triss suddenly turned into a ring-demanding would-be domestic goddess, I objected because it seemed so out of character for her, and Shani also has plenty going on in her life besides her desire for a family. The society of Murky Waters seems to have considerably narrower horizons for its women. Rather than complain about the characterisation of Celina and Alina, then, I’d rather ask: how do we resolve this?

Celina’s attempt to avert her sexual frustration (her monsterism?) through judicious administration of witchercock fails. Once both girls are monsters, Granbull’s other swords also fail to lay them to rest; if defeated, they reappear.

Celina, post-mortem and (thank god) post-coital.

The solution is neither sex nor death: it’s female solidarity. What Geront must do is resolve the jealousy by reconciling the two sisters, releasing them from the torment that keeps them monstrous. As you might expect, I like this a lot. It’s a refreshing contrast to the female monsters who must be saved or subdued by Gerbera, a theme which we’ve seen before, and will see again. Remember Princess Adda, who surprised me with her aggressive sexuality? Yeah, turns out that whole “woman has sexual agency” thing was just a byproduct of the fact she’s still a monstrous striga, and we’ll have to spend Chapter 5 hunting her down and forcing her to be a good girl again, kill or cure.

I like The Witcher best when it offers nonstandard solutions to “killing monsters”. We’ve also seen Carmen turn the female monster trope around by being the one struggling to save her werewolf boyfriend from his male monsterism, which manifests as aggression, rather than as excessive sexuality (What would that even look like, in a male character? Is it really that any sexuality is seen as excessive in a woman?). Carmen’s folk-tale remedies fail; it turns out that “true love” is the real cure. While my more cynical side wonders whether “you can change a violent partner if you love them hard enough” is a responsible message to send, the resolution to this subplot is genuinely sweet. Swords are not always the answer. Love can be the answer. Helping women driven into monsterism by patriarchy understand that they can be allies not enemies – I like that this, too, can be an answer.

 

18. Peasant Woman

No, it’s not a euphemism. She wants an actual sweet.

Things I like less: yet another generic nameless NPC encounter that follows the interminable formula of:

NPC: You’re really hot, I am legitimately attracted to you!

Geralt: Durrrrrr…

NPC: Wait, first give me a bribe. Ooh yes, slip it into my Give Gift box, big boy, that’s the way I li–

You get the idea. This is one of those.

 

19. Elf Woman

Oh! Oh! GUESS WHAT? I finally found a girl who wanted my watermelon! Well… actually, she was really aggressive about how she didn’t want it, and how I was being a patronising asshole “throwing” food at her just because she was starving to death in a cave, but the main thing is that she TOOK it and then we BONED! She yelled about wanting to beat me up, first. I think the message here is that oppressed women are actually ungrateful bitches who are just being tsundere when they demand to be treated with respect. Apparently, you should put her in her place with smooth lines such as: “You elves will never change”, call her “arrogant”, “unimpressive” and “ridiculous” (Is he… negging her?), then tell her to “calm down” when she gets angry. She’ll fall into your arms! [CAUTION: do not try this in real life, it will get you deservedly smacked in the face, no matter how many watermelons you have.]

Seriously though, honey, if I’d actually thrown that watermelon at you, you’d be dead. (Unless it caught on one of your impressive cheekbones and exploded harmlessly. Would you look at those things? Damn.)

 

20. The Lady of the Lake

Yes! Finally. I give this one five stars. It’s like Morenn, only better! No gifts, no rescues, just understanding, mutual respect and (yes!) attraction! An ancient, lonely, goddess who has watched all those she ever loved die, is now sick of being surrounded by sycophantic worshippers, with no one daring to cross the line and connect with her as a person. Savvy enough to mock Gelatin when he tries to compliment her with tired, insincere poetic lines, she cracks up when he tells her she has an amazing ass. It’s touching, it’s funny, it’s, (god-forbid) kinda hot!

Then she trolls Grunt afterwards, telling him he was terrible… lol, just kidding, he wasn’t THAT bad. I like this touch of including their post-coital conversation, since with so many of his encounters, Groundhog never interacts with his partner ever again. Show’s over, go home.

 

Next time on Ladycards: What do you MEAN I missed out on getting a threesome with nurses?!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Faxmachinen permalink
    September 14, 2014 00:58

    Sadly, I missed out on your flirting with The Lady of The Lake. The game apparently considers giving items as an equivalent though, so I received her throbbing sword anyway.

  2. September 14, 2014 06:28

    As a new reader, coming from a crosslinked post on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I want to say how much I enjoyed every one of these posts, and I’m looking forward to more.

    I love the first Witcher game but damn is it awful in it’s gender politics. I admit to not seeing many of the points you bring up, but I can’t say they are incorrect in the slightest. I wince when I think about the check-list approach to sex and relationships the game often is. It makes me wonder, when those great moments of sexual equality happen, if there is a completely different writer for those sections who needs to be hired full time.

    Can’t wait for the next post, and thank you!

    • Ronixis permalink
      September 15, 2014 04:47

      Since it’s an adaptation, we could also ask which bits are based on stuff that’s in the books, and which bits aren’t. (I don’t know if books past the first one have been translated to English from Polish, though.)

      • September 15, 2014 17:18

        My understanding is that the games are not adaptations of the novels but rather a continuation of those novels’ story. Gollop died in the books, so the games resurrected him with amnesia, presumably to put off having to explain why he’s back from the dead until the third game.

        So while many of the characters are based on counterparts from the books and many situations call back to the events therein, the games should be treated as original storytelling by the developers at CD Projekt, for better or worse.

  3. sethius permalink
    September 14, 2014 08:49

    your writing is insightful, hilarious, and fresh as tomorrow.

    the gaming world needs more like you, in a big, big way!

    without legitimate critics, how will the medium become legitimate?

    thank you for rocking.
    –sethius

  4. September 15, 2014 17:34

    What do you suppose it says about the game that the only sexual encounters that don’t amount to a quid pro quo exchange are with otherworldly/inhuman creatures?

    • September 15, 2014 18:03

      Well … Geralt is an outsider. As a Witcher he is immune to disease and he’s an exciting monster hunter that gets shunned by society (except when a human woman wants that extra special gift, anyway and / or there is a monster to kill).

      That he gets along better with non-human woman is partly a function of his outsider-ness.

      • September 15, 2014 18:12

        It isn’t that he “gets along” with them. Garibaldi gets along with everybody. Women of every stripe seem to fall for his creepy albino allure, with the only in-universe explanation given that it’s some combination of his mutant pheromones and the fact that he is sterile.

        But the otherworldly women can deal with Garamond as an equal and simply desire sex for its own sake. The human women all have to make the sex a transaction, even if they seem to desire sex for its own sake. I’m not interested in in-universe explanations so much as what the developer is saying with the game, and what is being communicated is that she ain’t messing with no broke witchers.

  5. jerf permalink
    September 16, 2014 09:46

    Since you’ve completed Act IV, could you comment on this Kotaku piece:
    http://kotaku.com/the-witchers-fourth-act-takes-rpgs-to-the-next-level-1623958861 ?
    I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts about it.

    • Kateri permalink*
      September 17, 2014 15:45

      I’m not sure I have a massive amount to say, really! I thought Act 4 was good in many ways, especially the pastoral summer, folk-tale vibe, and the potential for creativity in the quest solutions. I wasn’t as blown away as the article writer, though. The stuff with the vodanoi, especially, wasn’t very clearly developed – I thoght it worked better in the swamps, which had a similar appease-the-fishmen plot. And I spent way too much time running back and forth over the map. It was a nice change from the city though.

  6. Castellate permalink
    September 16, 2014 13:49

    I really hope you continue with this series for the next game as well, it’s pretty much the most interesting and funniest stuff I ever read about the Witcher.

  7. Ronixis permalink
    September 17, 2014 22:00

    I am really hoping to see more of this, whenever you feel ready to do it.

  8. July 28, 2015 05:15

    OK on the werewolf thing, it was my understanding that the werewolf is cured only if he chooses Carmen over his own masculine aggression and that your job at the end of that quest if you want to cure him is to convince him that the choice is a good one.

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