It’s a term used in gaming a lot: Meat Shield. In such a context, the Meat Shield is a character like the Tank, or Brute, or upfront fighter who can just take it forever and keep dishing it out, whilst occupying the attention of all the baddies so the rest of their team can also get some ass-kicking in. That’s their whole job, running head long into the fight, grabbing all the aggro, and keeping it while everyone else just mops up amid the mayhem.
And whilst in gaming, a Meat Shield is not necessary, but damn if they do not make things go smoother.
But I’ve noted in real life there are a lot of folk, who willingly or not, serve as Meat Shields. Often, they support or are involved with a contraversal cause: trans rights, gay rights, sex workers rights, women’s rights, racial equality, disability rights, rights for kinky people, you name it. Within all those groups, there are people who, as they say, draw the aggro. I’ve done it. I can think of several others who have as well: Trinity, Ernest, AntiPrincess, Gin, Jill B, Snowdrop, Kim, so on. Often times this aggro was not wanted or needed, but it was drawn, and held, anyway. And sometimes that has been part of the plan- sage nod at Jill B- someone is designated the Meat Shield, dives in head long, draws all the aggro, and whilst doing so…others are ignored and left alone so they can get shit done. Finish the job. See that things come to fruition. Everyone else is so busy trying to bring down the Meat Shield, they have no idea what the rest of the team is doing. I’ve noted that- ahem- due to my style and all- like it or not, sometimes with sex worker rights related things, it has not been a question of who will be the Meat Shield, it’s just a given that it will be me and a matter of how much aggro will be coming. Sometimes I am totally cool with this and realize it is a part I am good at playing.
Other times? Well, it leaves me feeling like that time Mr.E really wanted to level his Mastermind so I did not have more level 50 CoX characters than he did so he begged me to play my 50 Brute to power level him.
And I wonder about a lot of the other Meat Shields out there, you know, the people held up as poster people for whatever cause or agenda? I wonder if they consented or actually “like” being the Voice and Image of ——– (insert cause here). Was it a chosen, calculated thing or did it just happen? Did those people just wake up one day and realize everyone was quoting/linking to/heralding them as the Voice/Image of ——-? Hailing them as the true face of ——? I wonder how they feel about it? Not in public I mean, hell, in public, a Meat Shield has to be at their best, but elsewhere, when no one else is watching or waiting to see what they do or how they react?
Because you know, being the Meat Shield can suck. There are times you end up face down with the baddies stomping all over you while the rest of the team runs for their lives.
So yeah, sometimes when I am out there, in RL and on the Net and I see someone put out there as the meat shield, I wonder if it is a chosen thing, or if others have just tossed them out there because they, themselves, do not want the aggro.