This is our truth, tell us yours
This piece contains mild fallout 3 spoilers, but nothing which affects the main questline. Apologies to Carter,translation can be provided
It may not have escaped your notice that Bethesda released the trailer for Fallout 4 today, probably the worst kept secret since Paulie Cantelli’s chem addiction. As Dystopian throwbacks to the 1950s go, they dont come much better than Fallout 3, but it occupies quite a special place in my heart as it has (along with Fallout New Vegas) the most positive depiction of sex workers in any major game I have played. (I have to exclude Saints Row, since it went for the whole trafficking rescue fantasy).New Vegas even has a lecture about consent, and the fact paying for sexual services does not mean you can mistreat or abuse sex workers.
The first city you visit, and where I always set up home with Dogmeat, is Megaton, where Nova works in Moriarty’s Saloon. Frankly if I had a voice like Nova I would only do phone sex, her accent drips orgasms, and suggests sensual pleasure. She is unashamed, upfront, and closer to any real life sex worker than the stereotypes of GTA, or pitiful victim “prostituted women” Saarkesian seems to see hiding under every bed. Sadly Bethesda have a bit of a wobble about the fact sex workers can actually chose, and not regret sex work, and if you do book her and wake up alongside her she regretfully mutters about not looking at her like that. I really hope that in Fallout 4 they can leave the idea that sex workers all secretly regret what they do behind.
There is more to this than fangirling about one of my favourite games. Sex work is presented as what it is in the Fallout universe, a job, a survival tactic, a way of earning a few caps. When you meet Duchov the women who live with him are clear about their choices, trading sex for safety, survival sex work at its most basic. Fallout is so nuanced, and lacking in tragedy porn in its portrayal of sex work that even fans of the game seem to forget that it has sex workers in it. This says so much about our media portrayals of sex work, in film, tv and game. One of the great disappointments of Saarkesians Tropes versus Women series was that she is so whorephobic she was unable to see past the sex work tropes she believed in, the false representations which replace thought with stereotypes. Thus GTA is attacked not because it perpetuates the idea sex workers are disposable, increasing risk against us, but because they are sex workers, daring to mix with the rest of NPC humanity.
A while ago I made up my own backstory about the bards in Skyrim, given that the empty inns always claiming to have no customers except the local alcoholic clearly could not support a full time musician. Bard is clearly a nord euphemism for sex worker, the bards college a very expensive brothel cum training school. Think Assassin Creed without the sexual double standards. This also explains why the bards only know two of the worst songs ever written. The reality of sex work is we do not spend all of out time clad in leopard print and see through heels or singing of ragnar the red.Despite what some might want to believe we are part of society, as likely to be standing next to you in Tesco as we are to be standing on street corners. If I have one wish for Fallout 4, apart from the return of threedog, it is that this, oh yeah, sex work exists attitude is continued.