Objectify or Idealize: Sexism in Video Games

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Unfortunately, this is not a new topic. With last month’s reveal of death threats and terrorist threats against female video game critics, such as Anita Sarkeesian, the sexist portrayal of women in video games has become a topic of even more interest. With physics breaking chests and outfits made with the same material as condoms, women are certainly not portrayed accurately or appropriately. However, a great deal of men like to argue that their gender is also inaccurately portrayed. While this may be true, there is a great difference between objectification and idealization.

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Video game developers openly admit that their target audience is men, so they will give the images men want to see. And this is where the differentiation between the portrayals of both genders occurs. Because the intention is to please men, the portrayal of men is idealized for what men wish they could be: muscular, brave, the hero, etc. On the other end of the spectrum is how woman are portrayed, which is objectified for the pleasure of men. Women tend to be the overtly sexual but personality deficient hero’s help, the damsel in distress, or the evil that must be destroyed. None of these character types are anything I would want to be. Even if a woman seems powerful, she is there for a man’s eyes, thus causing the physics condom outfits and physics breaking chests.

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Why does this matter if men are the one’s playing video games? Because men are not the sole players of games. In fact, women comprise almost half of the amount of video gamers out there, shown in the graphic below. It is clear that women are playing the games and seeing these horrible images of what their gender is supposed to look like, according to developers. Women really need to be more outspoken about this injustice, like Anita Sarkeesian is.

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Video game developers should really strive for more equality in their game representations, for both men and women. Now I offer this option: either make women more realistic/ equal to men or keep them objectified, but if you choose the latter I better see some physics breaking features on men to make up to difference (which I’m pretty sure no one wants to actually see). You make the call developers.

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10 Comments Add yours

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  2. Mead says:

    As a woman, who has been gaming about 30 years, I have absolutely no interest in seeing feminism become part of gaming. I think that developers have done a decent job giving us strong female characters, more so than the Western film industry has. What jiggly, bulging penises? Okay, buy Skyrim and install Schlongs of Skyrim. Tada. I was gaming long before feminists had to put their two cents into the matter and I did not feel oppressed for it. The gaming community is already one of those places where you’re respected for how well you game, not whether you’re male or female. Yeah, I don’t mind my toon wearing a bikini while she kills off mobs. I’m just glad times have changed where the female role isn’t limited to “healer” or “mage.”

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  6. I love the graph that shows just how many women game. It’s not very smart for game developers to objectify women because it could alienate half their consumers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. I think one problem is the lack of representation of women in any part of gaming. And if there are women they are getting attacked or they are there as “eye candy” (ie Mari from Smosh Games)

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