Bringing Feminism to Hyrule Since '96

I am a geek and have been since I was young. Like many of us here on the internet, I say this with a hint of pride. That kid who stayed at home playing Super Mario Bros. and reading the encyclopedia? Yeah, that was me. Knows every anime to hit America since 1995? Also me. Can recite multiple episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series? You get the point. But geekdom is not always the shining Mushroom Kingdom we make it out to be. Like every group, we have our share of misogynist douchewads. for instance, let's look at one of my earliest hobbies, video games.

Before the ragestorm hits let me say: I AM BY NO MEANS DISSING GAMING. I am a gamer. I specialize in a genre frequently criticized by feminists: fighters. Many of my happiest memories involve Soul Calibur IV and my boyfriend yelling, "What? NO!" while I laughed triumphantly. But loving games does not stop me from seeing flaws in them. I remember one or two games from my youth in which there were only two female characters, both scantily clad and completely useless. While women in video games are still wearing next to nothing and modeled like Playboy models from the planet Mammillary (I'm looking at you, Dead or Alive), they've come a long way. I remember playing Tekken knock-offs in which the female characters were fast, but did almost no damage. It wouldn't have bothered me if it were only a one or two female characters, but no, ALL women fighters are fast but not strong. Because strong girls would have to have muscles and as we all know, "Muscles on chicks are nasty, bro." Which explains why the gamers of the world are disgusted by Chun-Li. Ok, I can't even be sarcastic about that. I'm sorry, Chun-Li, we all love you and your strong, muscular legs.

Now, fighters aren't responsible for ALL the chauvinism in the industry. Let's look at World of Warcraft. WHAT THE HELL DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET ARMOR THAT COVERS MY FREAKING TORSO? One would think that instead of wearing metal bras onto the battlefield, my Night Elf Warrior would get some armor that covers, oh, I dunno, her vital organs? Don't get me wrong, I love boobs. But when I'm in the middle of a raid, the last thing I'm thinking is, "Aw, geez. I hope my character's boobs are well supported and perky." No. I'm hoping those ogres back there don't club me to death. And don't even get me started on the arrogant veQ* that graces the servers. Go to any server and say anything. Once they hear a female voice, the chauvinist veQ will emerge from the shadows. Be prepared to hear anything from insults about how horrible of a gamer you must be (alarming amounts of people believe that women are terrible gamers who only play Nintendogs) to pleas for pics and your email address. I am not in Azeroth to join in a flame war or find my soulmate; I'm here to do battle.

Finally, we need to examine the FPS (first person shooter). Yes, I realize Samus Aran from Metroid is a fully clad woman. And I love Samus. When I was eight, I wanted to be Samus. But there is a huge lack of Samus Arans (or any playable women, for that matter) in the FPS world. Let's look at the Halo series. There are no women in battle for the first three games. There are women in the game, but they seem to disappear as soon as the shooting starts (or they are the creepy AI that I still have vaguely erotic nightmares about). So, I was excited when I heard that there was a woman in combat in Halo:ODST. A strong woman! And I get to play as a soldier? I'll be able to make a superbad female soldier! Right? No. That "strong woman" I was hoping for is repeatedly objectified and disrespected by the troops under her command and completely incompetent. And I can only play as a man, because apparently women can't be soldiers in the future. Way to fail the female gaming community, Bungie.

In conclusion, we the geeks would like to announce that we've found a few bugs in human nature. We are currently working on a patch to fix it so please be patient.

*veQ: translates to garbage or filth, for those of you who don't speak Klingon.

More articles by Category: Feminism, Science and tech
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Gaming



Ariel B
Sign up for our Newsletter

Learn more about topics like these by signing up for Women’s Media Center’s newsletter.