Monday, December 02, 2013

Ms. Man and Tropes vs. Women

So we’re finally onto episode 4 of the Tropes vs. Women series and we have a new topic. The Ms. Male Character. I prefer Ms. Man. The counterpart to the male character, stereotyped with pink, bows, long lashes, makeup, and high heeled shoes. These female versions of their male “equals” (and let’s all use that term lightly) typically have no personality or are completely dependent on the male character to have a reason to exist. Ms. Pacman needs Pacman. Amy needs Sonic. Dixie Kong needs Diddy Kong. And so on and so forth. These are not women portrayed as the helpless victim, most of the time. Rather, they exist as an “other.” Personality traits, clothing, and dialogue are restricted to a girl-oriented dynamic as if the characters are not allowed to be anything but typecasted versions of how women are interpreted in the media.

What about the stronger female characters like Anya from Gears of War 3 and femShep from Mass Effect? They suffer the same fate, though from a marketing standpoint. The games are solely focused on the male character’s experience, with the women considered as an afterthought. While the characters are solid (I still have my nitpicks about Anya) and do not follow the grain of being completely feminized to ridiculous levels (i.e. no bows in the hair, and hell you don’t have to use makeup if you don’t want to), if you ask players about the games, their experiences are going to be focused on the male characters. Why? That’s how they were marketed and, in turn, gamers have been influenced to play the male roles.

That’s the jist of what Sarkeesian was going for. I have to applaud here for including the less stereotypical characters in this discussion. It’s equally important to see how games with supposed strong women are also being sexualized and cast aside. Warrior /= sexist free zone. Gender equality in gaming is a myth, and further perpetuated by the Ms. Man trope.

At the same time, I’m finding Sarkeesian’s videos to not include as much depth into the discussion as I would have hoped for. I understand that she’s going for broad appeal to try and capture more views and get more people on board with thinking about the topic. I wish she would include a follow-up video or something that would allow us to dive deeper into the issues and have constructive thinking. It may be asking for too much, but I’m putting it out there.

You can check out the latest video on YouTube


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