I was objectified last night. Objectified for my looks. And I was surprised at how shocked and horrified I was.

I am, you see, a guy. A big, fat, bearded, 35-year-old guy. I tend to be the one doing the objectifying. While I don't go out and obnoxiously mack on pretty girls, I am certainly not above surreptitiously scoping out any eye candy that comes my way.

But now I've been objectified. Objectified by another guy who really didn't care how his behavior made me feel.

I am, you see, playing this new massively multiplayer online roleplaying game called "City of Heroes". It's a superhero game, and it lets you create just about any character you can imagine, then run around Paragon City, busting bad guys and protecting the innocent. So far, I've created six different characters for the game: three males and three females. I don't even feel that strange playing female characters--I've been writing my own comic book script for the past several years that is jam-packed with female superheroes. I'm a bit surprised that there aren't more female characters in comic books, just because I, as an immature heterosexual male, find them so damn interesting.

So I created my latest character a few nights ago, starting originally from the idea that glowing green eyes on a solid black face (not African, but completely black in color) would look really, really cool. I tried it first on the male character models the game provides, and I just couldn't get it to look right, but when I used the female character model, it looked infinitely cooler than I had imagined. I added long white hair and a skimpy costume, and it looked even better. Necrovora ended up being what looks to me like the best character I've designed. She looks like a cross between comic characters like Spawn, Lady Death, Witchblade, and the Angelus--all dark characters, and perfect for the character concept I'd had in mind. In other words, I didn't make the character up out of any desire to curry favor with horny teenaged game-players.

And she really does look good. The game doesn't really give you much opportunity to sex your characters' appearances up. You can't give 'em thongs or exaggerated cleavage. But aside from the bizarre black skin and glowing green eyes, Necrovora would certainly be a head-turner if you saw her outside of cyberspace. But frankly, I hadn't yet seen any real opportunity to ogle female characters in the game. Usually, the best I could manage would be thinking "That's an interesting costume!" as my character ran past someone else.

Fool that I am, right?

So, last night, Necrovora had just finished beating the stuffing out of a trio of gangsters when I noticed some guy calling himself "Gen0cYde" watching me. Big deal. Folks watch other players kick ass all the time. I head to one of the safe areas of the city so I can check how much XP I got from socking the gangstas around, and Gen0cYde follows me. Getting creepier. So he sends me a message: "Hey." I don't reply. I have more important things to do--I have to go look for more thugs to beat up, or I'll never make it up to Security Level 3. So I leave the safe area and head for another section of the city where I know the crooks congregate.

Gen0cYde sends me another message: "Not feeling very talky?" Sure ain't, kid. But wait: this message didn't come through the local chat channel or a private message; he added me to his Friends list and sent it through his Friends chat channel! I've never even spoken to him and he's adding me to his Friends list? He's really climbing up the Creep-o-Meter fast now.

I still refuse to say anything to him, but a few minutes later, he sends me another message: "Aren't you going to talk to me?" Well, if it's not obvious by the fact that I'm still not talking to you: NO. I'M NOT GOING TO TALK TO YOU.

And after I finally logged off for the night, I found myself pondering my own reactions to the whole incident. Aside from ignoring Gen0cYde religiously, what else did I do? Well, I got paranoid that he was going to follow me around. I got a bit frightened and angry the more he sent me messages. I went out of my way to avoid him--I'd gone to a neighborhood where all the thugs were too weak to net me much experience, just so I could stay away from him. And I found myself thinking, "How dare that guy act like that just because of my looks! Can't he see that I'm more than just a pretty package? I've got these dark hellish fighting powers, and I'm taking on gangs of five thugs at a time! What's with guys who can't bring themselves to respect a woman for something other than the size of her tits?!"

And then, I had strange urges to go watch something on Lifetime...

This is what I think I'll do tonight. I'll go look for Gen0cYde somewhere. (There's no player-killing in the game, so that's not an option) Once I find him, I'll say something like, "Hey, lets U & me go somwhere public so foks can watch." Once we get to the public square where most folks hang out, I'll say, in the public channel so everyone can hear, "come close so every1 can see ok baby?" Then "Everybody look look at us!"


Then I'll add Gen0cYde to my "/ignore" list and log Necrovora off for the evening.

And after that, it'll be time to log in as Slugger, my baseball-themed superhero, who'll walk up to Gen0 and say, "Hey, baby. You look pretty hot in those jeans. Wanna see my bat?"