This is our truth, tell us yours
You can read day 1 here, if you are late to class, and discover why we all need to learn from Ripley. Now, lets settle down for Day 2.
Earlier this year I wrote my hopes for Fallout 4 one of the most eagerly anticipated games, since, well since pong first pinged onto our tv screens. Sadly my hopes of fallout continuing its excellent attitude to sex work were dashed. Instead Bethesda, responding I suspect to criticisms of transphobic, anti sex work, and frankly unimaginative feminists like Anita Saarkesian gave us a sanitised wasteland with the perky piper as little miss respectability.
Mainstream feminism embraces respectability, sex must be monogamous, lights out, pair bonding or to make babies. BDSM is abuse, because women cant actually chose what they enjoy, and the perkiness is mandatory because anger is just not allowed.
Luckily before Fallout 4 was a twinkle in Bethesda’s eye, and before feminism became a good way to make a quick buck (so long as you were touting patriarchy approved feminism) there was Fallout New Vegas. In New Vegas we finally got the queer, sex work accepting, game we always wanted, and perhaps always needed.
As you wander the wasteland, perhaps wondering about your lack of a back story, and how you survived being shot in the head, you will meet a variety of characters of all genders. Fallout has always been pretty good when it comes to gender equality, yes, in a feminist knickers twist you can get distracted by the fact female armour is designed for boobs and bottoms, but structurally this is a pretty equal society when it comes to gender. However it is not a perfect one, and some of the issues are ones our world shares.
The respectability narrative is that once we get gay married, and settle down to be those cogs mentioned in my Alien piece, everything will be OK. Its a new closet, act as much like cis het people as possible in the hope they might accept you (newsflash, they wont)
Which brings us to Veronica and Christine. Veronica is a scribe with the Brotherhood of Steel, a quasi fascist group who really really like old tech, not to do anything useful with but to hoard, like your gran with chocolates at Christmas. Veronica likes hot sex, fisting, (seriously, her weapon of choice is a super charged power fist) is super femme and fell in love with Christine, another BOS solider. Unfortunately Christine’s parents disapproved, since they wanted Christine to make little baby fascists with a nice man. Christine disappeared to join the black ops wing of the BOS and Veronica takes to hanging out at truck stops picking up wandering strangers.
Love is not enough, queerness will always be stomped on when people feel threatened, especially if it is a femme queerness, how dare we deny men access to something they might find attractive. We need to fight not to be just like cis het people, but to have our difference protected, and we need to fight for each other, in our difference.
The New Vegas universe is one where sex work is accepted as the work it is. There are rules, as the owner of the atomic wrangler says, sex workers are not slaves, they chose their clients, and ill treatment is not considered acceptable. In the more down market Casa Madrid which might be compared to a walk up in the UK, there is a gay male prostitute, Maude who is straight, and Sweetie who takes male and female clients. Their choice is non negotiable, and built into the game. The Fallout New Vegas universe has a better understanding of sex work, and the fact we sell consensual sex, than those opposed to sex workers rights. Our titular heroine, Beatrix Russel, takes a job as a pro domme at the Atomic wrangler, for those with a ghoul cowboy fetish. Its made clear from the initial approach that this is a job, and should you wish to spend time with Beatrix she makes her rules clear. Working alongside a male sex worker offering the “boyfriend experience” and fisto, the sex bot, she retains her agency and her autonomy. The skill of sex work is also recognised, as Beatrix, Santiago and Fisto are all recruited because of their different skill sets.
From the dancers in the casinos, to the specialised fetish sex workers Fallout New Vegas is permeated with a vital lesson all young ladies (and others) who wish to fight patriarchy need to know: Sex work is work.
Rape as a narrative driver is hugely problematic, however when you learn of the rape of Corporal Betsy is is not a plot point, but from a concerned comrade. Betsy is another queer character, trying to tough out the impact of being raped by a psychotic killer. She still finds the courier attractive (if you play as a female) a great rejection of the fate worth than death trope. The side quest around Betsy’s rape is simple, you have to convince her to get appropriate trauma counselling.
Let me run that by you again, a queer woman has been raped and the response of those around her is-
Can we have this universe please? The gap between it and the world we inhabit is so large as to make her treatment astonishing, it is the way every survivor deserves to be treated.
Class dismissed, the tests will come when you least expect it.