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Bayonetta uses body confidence to combat heaven and hell
As someone who personally lacks body confidence, I’ve always been drawn to women in both fiction and reality who know they’re awesome and carry that confidence proudly. From female wrestlers like Asuka to action movie stars like Brie Larson, I really just like a woman who could probably beat me up if they needed to without so much as breaking a sweat.
That confident charisma is a big part of why I love video game protagonist Bayonetta.
The daughter of a lumen sage and an umbra witch (basically an angel and a devil), Bayonetta is considered by the heavens to be an immoral being who probably shouldn’t exist. From the moment of her birth, both sides of a heavenly war have considered her too dangerous, tried to lock her away, and aimed to stifle her power.
Stuck in the middle of this conflict, Bayonetta is basically a body positive, dominatrix energy-wielding, gun-toting badass who wants to dismantle the church through direct action.
During the two main Bayonetta video games, our heroine routinely fights off supernatural enemies by flirting with them and using her body to distract them, before shooting them at point blank range in the face with her high heels, which are actually guns. In any typical encounter, she might emasculate a literal angel and seductively suck on a lollypop, before summoning a huge fist through an otherworldly portal to punch them into next week from behind, all while maintaining the elegance of her appearance.
She chastizes enemies who can’t defeat her, she confidently taunts those who try to stand up to her, and the whole time she makes it seem so effortless that she comes across as barely having to try. She's got strong female energy, in the sense that she's the kind of woman who you just kind of want to say yes to and please. In equal measures, you want to please her and fear what would happen if you got in her way.
Oh, and her clothing is actually made of her hair, which can also transform into torture devices to defeat angels with. Doing this causes her to flash some skin, catching the eye of the enemy, who as a result probably won't notice a huge hellhound about to rip them to pieces.
In media, there’s a fine line between how much agency you prescribe to a character, and how much agency you prescribe to their creator. It would be easy in theory to write off Bayonetta as a character designed to be sexually attractive to serve the male gaze, but I really don’t see her in-game presentation that way.
The way she’s shot, always powerful and in control, the fact that consistently men try and police her existence and she just weaponizes her body positivity against them to defeat them, and the centering of her as constantly powerful and in control, simply comes across more as body positive confidence than anything else.
Additionally, the fact that she’s often taking down the kind of puritanical prudish men who spent hundreds of years policing women’s place in society makes it all the more empowering. Every time I find myself fighting a fire-breathing heavenly abomination clad in spandex, I just remember that Bayonetta’s whole fighting style and demeanor is everything the church would traditionally have hated acknowledging existed.
Look, sometimes I just want my witches to be catsuit-clad women who could just step on me beyond my ability to stop them, and I think that’s OK. Bayonetta is proud of her background, refuses to be shamed by it, and lives with pure confidence despite her forbidden origins. She's just a confident, sexy, made-of-guns, high heels-clad badass offspring of an angel and a demon — and when we get down to it, isn’t that what Witchy Wednesday is all about?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.