Joined: Feb 2010
August 13, 2012 09:23:34 PM
I think this is a great topic. I see the point of the OP is making, there are really just as many bad stereotypes and expectations placed on male video game characters and throughout all media. Examples would be The Rock or Vin Diesel style and insanely violent and emotionally unattached male characters.
The reason why this is not out of hand though is because up until recently, and even still in many places of the world women ARE second class citizens to men. That's the reason there are feminists (which simply is wanting equality for all women-it does not mean MAN HATER). There is absolutely no reason why both male and female interests shouldn't be considered more thoughtfully in media, but it's just not how it works.
When people say sex sells, try and broaden your understanding of that statement to "gender" sells. Sex is purely genital based, and yes some themes in video games are pornographic in nature, but it's really GENDER that needs to be looked at. Gender is the attributes that we assign to male and females. The main problem is that 'men' (certainly not all men, but as an over-arching social trend) also define what are desirable attributes to define the female gender (slim, in need of a protector, incapable, kind, nurturing etc). This is done in service to their own attributes (to be a hero, strong, fierce, tough, provider, have all the answers etc). The reality is men and women both share all human attributes, however a woman who doesn't care about meeting a man's expectations, or a man who doesn't care about a woman's expectations (we learn what these things are shortly after we are born... blue & trucks for boys, pink & dolls for girls...) are often the subject of ridicule (men are called pussies for sharing feelings, women are sluts for expressing sexuality, or dykes for short hair etc).
What am I getting at? Gender sells.
Think of body wash commercials, a woman essentially is displayed using the wash. She is softer, serene, maybe even more youthful, and ultimately more desirable by men-and in some adverts the finale is them being caressed by some manly hunk of muscle. Alternatively a man's body wash commercial either says buy this to be a playboy, or buy this to protect your man hide, and often is sold with rugged looking sloughing tools much like crap you'd find in a tool box. We use what is socially defined as gender to sell products.
In video games the demographics for players has traditionally been more populated by men, so of course I think this is where strict gender generalizing is less tasteful. They haven't really had to care as much, but I think that video games is slowly becoming one of the better portrayals of women and men possessing human attributes more fairly. I think Mass Effect is a great example, especially because the player got to control the emotions of either gender, without being forced into hyper masculinity or weakened femininity.
But honestly, as long as people encourage their baby boys to be rough and tumble, and their baby girls to play with dolls and makeup and deny them experiences that have been traditionally male or female I see no reason to aspire to change how things are done. It really does have to change from the bottom up.