In an interesting piece of news emerging from Australia, Peter Dutton (the Minister for Home Affairs) recently made a claim about how GTA is partly to be blamed for toxic male behavior.
Australia is already more strict on video game regulations than other western countries, but it seems like it could take a turn for the worse. Peter Dutton, who is the Minister for Home Affairs within Australia, made some claims about GTA on Channel 9's Today Show. It wasn't just directed at GTA, for he also spoke about unfiltered TikTok videos.
GTA is no stranger to misogyny, and neither is the Australian Parliament. The Guardian readers even voted the famous Misogyny Speech as the most unforgettable moment on Australian TV. In this situation, it's vital to look at both sides when somebody as important as Peter Dutton makes a claim like this one.
Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs alleges that GTA is to be partly blamed for toxic male behavior
Some critics of Peter Dutton believe that his recent interview on Channel 9 is a mere distraction from the Australian Parliament's own treatment of women. For context, Peter Dutton's quote is as follows:
"If you’re playing Grand Theft Auto, as a 13 year old boy, and lets of teenage boys will do, you can go — in that game, not just, you know, drive cars recklessly, you can go for a lap dance, you can go and shoot police. And so we need to have a broader conversation about the influences on those young boys, both in a family setting and a societal setting and particularly online.
GTA's history of misogyny
Women within the GTA series are often used solely for eye-candy. A game like GTA 4 is rare within the context of this kind of characterization, as the women of that game seem more alive. They're not just eye-candy or prostitutes to be used when it's convenient.
However, most other GTA games are notoriously bad when it comes to their handling of women. For instance, an old game like GTA Vice City doesn't paint them in the best of ways. Candy Suxxx and Mercedes Cortez are both seen as very promiscuous women and that's not to say sex-positivity is a bad thing. However, it is an issue when that's the extent of their character.
Even in a game as recent as GTA 5, characters like Amanda and Tracey De Santa are heavily influenced by lust. Yet, it isn't just the characterization of women that drives some fans wild. The infamous act of killing prostitutes after sleeping with them was heavily criticized in the past.
The Australia's Minister for Home Affairs and his claim on GTA
While Peter Dutton's claims aren't entirely unfounded upon principle, there is a matter of discussion to be had regarding Australia's own notorious problems. Considering Peter Dutton is a public official of significant importance, this is one of the more major examples of somebody blaming GTA for influencing easily-impressionable youngsters.
Australia is already more strict than other western countries when it comes to censorship and regulations within video games. Past GTA titles like GTA III have been banned. As far as toxic male behavior goes, one of the reasons a game like GTA III was banned was because of the act of killing prostitutes.
For some people, it's just an easy way to get their money back; for others, it's a demeaning act that preys upon the vulnerability of women.
The Australian Parliament's own issues of misogyny
While there is a claim to be made regarding GTA influencing some people negatively, some critics believe that Peter Dutton is simply deflecting the blame elsewhere. As alluded to previously, there are allegations of misogyny within Canberra, the Australian capital.
"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man; I will not.....If he [Abbott] wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror. That's what he needs."
The woman in the above video is Julia Gillard. She was criticized for being unmarried and childless, which were claimed to not be good traits to have for a leader. Naturally, a person's personal life shouldn't be attacked so viciously for such minor details. While the video took place nearly eight years before Peter Dutton's comments, it still speaks volumes about how there were problems within the Australian Parliament long before recent discussions of GTA.
It should go without saying that the Australian Parliament weren't teenagers that played a lot of GTA back in the day. Sexism and misogyny are very real issues, so naturally, some people are offended when the blame is deflected to something as minor and insignificant in the grand scheme of things like GTA (by comparison to world politics).
Disclaimer: The points raised by this article are the opinion of the writer alone.