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It's a Virtual Panty Raid

Racy new CD-ROM game draws the ire of feminist critics

By Lucy Maher

IF YOU THOUGHT panty raids struck only sorority row, think again. A new CD-ROM game called Panty Raider targeted at young men will let players strip models down to their underwear to satisfy aliens threatening Earth. But critics say the game sends a bad message and humiliates girls and women.

Parents' and women's groups have sent numerous e-mails to New York publisher Simon & Schuster to try [to] halt the release of the game later this month.

"These gender stereotypes are really corrosive and harming both our daughters and our sons," says Joe Kelly, executive director of Daughters and Dads, an advocacy group that started the e-mail campaign.

"The notion that women are just there to be objectified is dangerously unhealthy.

"It's the repeated message that how a girl looks is more important than what she is capable of doing."

However, Simon & Schuster Interactive says the game is just entertainment.

" 'Panty Raider: From Here to Immaturity' is a humorous game, and like all comedy might offend some people while amusing others," the company said in a statement. "The over-the-top nature of its humor is a clear indicator that it is not meant to be taken seriously. Its intention is to make light of the many pervasive stereotypes that permeate our culture."

In addition to stripping models of their clothes, players can pop in breath mints, flash credit cards, and deliver "cheesy pick-up lines to lure models out of the woods."

"No self-respecting supermodel can resist these items," Simon and Schuster said in its press release.

While some may think the game is fun, others say it goes too far.

"It's the bottom of the barrel in terms of imagination," says Corless Smith, a San Francisco State University professor, who recently discussed the game in her "Women and the Media" class. "It's supposed to be ironic and over-the-top, but why is it that women are always victims in over-the-topness?"

Simon & Schuster says the game is targeted at "age-appropriate groups"--and the Entertainment Software Rating Board, an independent organization that rates games, says the game is appropriate for players aged 18 and older.

Industry experts say teenagers will be drawn to the game, but don't think it's cause for concern.

"It's pretty unusual," says Amer Ajami, preview editor at www.gamespot.com.

"I don't think there's been another game where you get a teenager who gets to decide how to dress naked models. It's something that needs to be taken lightly by grown-ups. It's just a game, and it's clearly comical."

Still, parents like Kelly say they don't get the joke.

"For them to say that it is [aimed at men] is a silly response," he says. "If this was a game for adults, it wouldn't be stripping the supermodels down only to their underwear."


This article originally appeared on Chickclick's news channel, Shewire.

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From the June 8-14, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.




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