Is Super Tux Kart sexist?

In today's open source roundup: Images in the Super Tux Kart racing game spur charges of sexism. Plus: Debian Linux 8.1 released. And why run Linux on a Chromebook?

The Super Tux Kart sexism controversy

Super Tux Kart is a popular racing game for Linux. But a recent thread on the Debian mailing list contained charges of sexism against the developers of Super Tux Kart. The Debian mailing list thread then spawned a Reddit thread on the Debian subreddit.

Emorrp1 sums up the thread on the Debian mailing list:

TL;DR: Concerned self-withdrawn STK dev posts to debian-women for comment, provides evidence for claims, thread attracts a feminist with axe to grind about gaming community who wrote the claims in this title, upsteam denies nefarious motive and thread moves on to more philosophical discussion about how this kind of thing can be handled.

The initial post[1] by Vincent Lejeune which refers to the 0.9 release poster[2] and asking for the offending materials to be patched out of the debian package. 0.8.1 poster for comparison?[3]

The first few responses recommended contacting the debian maintainer, who asked for the issue to be dealt with upstream[4] . This post[5] found an early character creation thread[6] featuring various non-scantily clad depictions of Sara, similar to the release announcement's screenshots[7] . The trailer there does depict Sara wearing a bikini (... in a beach and swimming context IMO).

The OP's second post provided links to further evidence[8] for their claims before the thread was largely derailed by the more accusatory Suso Baleato (in the May archives linked to by youstumble) until Vincent's next post[9] where the discussion becomes more reasonable. This post[10] claims that "Sara is the only female character in the whole game" otherwise purely animal populated.

Finally, a response from upstream[11] is worth reading in full as it IMO fully rebuffs the accusations. It states Sara is not the only female character and was "mainly designed by women", male swimsuit[12] characters were simply not created in time.

More at Reddit

Redditors responded in force with their own thoughts about possible sexism in Super Tux Kart:

Wadcann: "I was certain that this was just a made-up persona to troll, since I couldn't imagine someone like this in real life, but apparently the person complaining seems to be Suso Baleato[1] , a "Political Science Technologist", some sort of government drone. I'll be darned."

Harkenplop: "Well the profile does say 'think tanks', which usually means 'completely out of touch which reality'. This case is kind of a false alarm, though, if you strip away all the buzzwords and inflammatory rhetorics. Ignoring the words pedophilia and sexism, what he's actually saying is really just 'Hey guys, do you think we could try not having half-naked pre-teen girls as bystanders in a children's game?', which is considerably less unreasonable.

It's an understandable parental concern that drowns itself in the internet debate style of the age. I'm pretty sure the quality of the thread would have been dramatically better if he hadn't started out by basically suggesting that the game is made by people who think little girls are hot."

MrPotatoJunior: "Tux Kart? The game with the cartoony free software animal mascots racing each other? Don't these people have anything better to do?"

Frogdoubler: "Sometimes they go into IRC channels and wait for people to say 'hey guys' so they can tell them how toxic they are to the community."

Rasusto: "I just don't even. There are real gender and racial inequalities to address in the world, especially in the third world. These people don't realize just how sheltered and privileged (yes I used that own word against them) they are if the biggest issue they have to complain about is a cartoon girl in an obscure video game. This is beyond first world social justice problems."

Simonsixty: "True. It may be an issue but if you fix this, you've fixed the world for a number of people the equivalent of a small bus station. My own opinion is that upstream is free to manage the project in line with their own values/conscience etc. and Debian is free to package or not to package the game. However, it's not for Debian to censor-patch an upstream package."

Wormholer: "...come on, is that supposed to be Sarah the developer character? There's no point in including a bikini version. I don't think the poster is that bad, but it's a kids game. The new engine looks great. We have a hard enough time being inclusive with open source, which is why the good companies do outreach. It can't be that big of a deal to take that character out if they are just standing by the track."

Nikomo: "OK, I have no trouble with women in bikinis, but those models just seem out of place - if you include humanoids, you need to give them some animation, or make them statues. I'd like those out of game, just because they're bad game design. Also, yeah, they look like anime characters."

Hatec0re: "Screw this SJW crap. If they don't like it they should create their own forks and repos, problem solved - or at least it would be, if their ultimate goal wasn't to force every one to be ultra-PC. What's next, defining awk as unacceptable and requiring a feminist-safe replacement to be created?"

Distant_worlds: "I've already seen where they demanded "master" and "slave" for replication and system control be removed because it is apparently "triggering" or something..."

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