I started playing rdr2 but stopped because like idk but I can't seem to get over the fact that all the women are prostitutes and they don't really have any important roles. Like what's Abigail do? Ooh she's a mother who's always mad? What do the other women do? Oooh they sleep with the gang. What's Sadie do? Oooh she becomes a badly written femme fetale who suddenly becomes a flawless killer. The women are just so badly represented.
I get the feeling you didn't play the game naturally or see any random encounters, because none of what you said is true. There's a lot to unpack here, so let's start with the "all the women are prostitutes" comment.
First of all, none of the women are prostitutes, a fact that deeply irritates Micah. During a coach robbery where he rides with Arthur and Bill, he even says, “Why the hell do we need a gaggle of girls who won’t even fuck you if you put a gun to their head? Is it too much to ask considering they get a piece of every damn dollar I bring in?” Poor baby. He even tries to proposition all of the women (Grimshaw included), but they all insult him and send him running with his tail between his legs. It’s hilarious and I love it. Arthur also responds to Micah with, “Everyone does their share. I don’t see you lifting a finger around camp.”
Now a bit about the girls:
Mary-Beth was a skilled pickpocket, but she ended up being caught by a group of her victims. She mentions this during a conversation with Arthur, where she points out how hard it was for women who came from nothing, and the inequality of it all. RDR2 actually regularly highlights how difficult frontier/outlaw life was for women back then, often pulling zero punches. While fleeing her pursuers, Mary-Beth luckily ran into Hosea, who helped her escape and welcomed her to the gang. You can see Dutch lusting after her a few times, because he's an old pervert, but she always shuns his advances. She was never a prostitute and she was actually underage when she joined.
Tilly was a child outlaw and a member of the Forman gang from the age of twelve. She ended up killing the leader's cousin because he [as is heavily implied] tried to rape her. She was around sixteen at the time and tried to return to her mother after the ordeal, but she unfortunately passed away while Tilly was running with the Formans. Out of options, she eventually joined the van der Linde gang after Dutch saved her from some unspecified trouble. You can find most of this out during one of my favourite side missions, where she gets kidnapped by Anthony Foreman in retaliation for killing his cousin. With Grimshaw’s help, you can rescue Tilly and put an end to it once and for all. She was never a prostitute and was also underage when taken in.
Susan Grimshaw was one of the original members of the gang and one of Dutch's first lovers. They parted amicably and both fell in love with other people (Dutch with Annabelle, and Susan with a doctor who sadly ended up dying), but she stayed with the gang because of their mutual respect for each other. She later became the arbiter of the camp and a kind of surrogate mother to Arthur, John, and the other girls. She was never a prostitute, but rather a rough-and-tumble outlaw.
Karen is a little more complicated. Overall, she was a scam artist (Hosea even called her an “actress”) who sometimes lured men into brothels, then stole from them or picked their brains for leads. That doesn't necessarily mean she was a prostitute; however, it just means she used sex as a manipulation tactic. Out of all the women in the group, she was the freest and most unconventional. She also stood on guard duty and participated in heists. The only man she ever slept with in game was Sean, and his death absolutely devastated her. If you talk to her or observe her interactions, you also discover she’s a raging alcoholic suffering from some very deep-seated issues. She likely did have to do things she wasn’t proud of in order to survive, but in my opinion that makes her one of the most realistic members of the group. She was never described as a prostitute.
Molly was an aristocrat who left her family to be with Dutch. His abusive treatment eventually led her to suffer an identity crisis, where she ended up hysterical and heartbroken. Her story is sad, but she was never a prostitute. If anything, Molly is the best example we have that Dutch views people as items, not human beings.
Abigail is the only prostitute in the game, but by the events of RDR2 she's an ex-prostitute. To say she's nothing more than "a mother who's always mad", I feel, does her character a great disservice. First of all, she left that profession behind to raise her son, to give him a decent chance in life. Unlike John, she stepped up immediately to become a responsible adult. I don't think people realise how impressive that is because, one, she could've easily abandoned Jack at the roadside (which was common back then), two, she could've induced an abortion, and three, she was quite young when she had him; around nineteen years old.
You say the women are "poorly represented", but they're stronger, smarter, and more mature than most of the men. A few of them even become self-sufficient in the turn of the century, something dear old Dutch couldn't even do/accept. Abigail in particular helps Sadie mourn her husband and the two grow very close. Their interactions are both grounded and heartwarming, with Abigail telling Sadie she’ll suffer the loss of her husband, but that it’ll get better if she keeps on living. She takes care of her, and Sadie later returns that kindness. These women are so full of quirks and humour and personality, I don’t know how you missed it.
As for Sadie ... where do I even begin? Badly written? Femme fatale? Flawless killer? Sadie is one of the best written characters. She's not flawless, she's exceptionally flawed, temperamental, and traumatised. It's never expressly stated, but it's implied at several points throughout the game that she was repeatedly assaulted while the O'Driscolls kept her captive. At first, she's petrified and miserable, to the point that all she does is cry and express suicidal ideation. Then, she gets angry. Very angry. Having nothing left to live for, her home and husband torn from her grasp, she throws herself headfirst into danger, which almost gets her killed on a number of occasions.
She's not a "flawless killer", she's a messy killer. She's not an expert death-dealer, and that's made evident from the start -- but she was a hunter who shared the workload with her husband, so it's not as if her skills just magically appeared. You do see how much it weighs on her, however, near the end of chapter six. If you help her kill the rest of the O'Driscolls, she laments what she's become because she thinks her husband would be horrified. She’s extremely complex and struggles between mourning and moving on.
I also can't help but laugh at the "femme fatale" accusation, because Sadie actually defeminises herself, which is understandable considering the hell she’s suffered. She even wears men's clothing, which wasn't illegal [anymore] back then, but it was openly frowned upon. Femme fatales use their beauty and sexuality to their advantage, ensnaring men with their feminine wiles. Sadie never does that and fights side-by-side with the boys. Interestingly enough, that's partially why Calamity Jane, an actual historical figure, garnered so much attention, because of how she behaved/dressed. It’s pretty clear to me that Rockstar might’ve used her as inspiration for Sadie. This was a real woman who lived from 1852 to 1903.
In addition, Sadie plays one of the most important roles, yet she does so without falling into the category of a Mary-Sue. She saves the gang and moves them to a new location when the Pinkertons attack Shady Belle. She hatches the plan that frees John from prison. She helps Arthur rescue Abigail after she gets kidnapped. She tracks down Micah and puts an end to his reign of terror. But most of what she does she accomplishes with a partner--Arthur or John--both of whom she respects immensely. No one, not even Arthur, does everything alone, and when they do there’s usually negative consequences. It's the camaraderie and shared experiences that make these characters successful, and aside from Charles and Hosea, I’d even argue that the women are more well-rounded and fleshed out than the men.
I gather from for comments that you didn't finish the game, so I hate to spoil it, but I kind of have to if you walked away with this mindset. The women of RDR2 are a force to be reckoned with.
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