Despite the name of this blog and the subject of my very first post, I don’t consider myself a particularly good feminist. I chose the name because I’m a girl. No grand mission statement here. Yes, I believe in equality, and that it’s not currently in an optimal state, but I have a tendency to take the idea that I can do whatever I want for granted.
And then Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter starts trending, and I start to wonder more specifically where I fall on the video game feminism rainbow.
It’s an open forum for anyone to say anything they think will get a rise out of anyone else. And damn, did they ever flock to this girl. I’m not sure how many of these people were actually serious. I think if you took most of them and sat them down in front of you, they wouldn’t dare to say these things out loud, and the ones who do are probably in prison or on their way there.
I’m not sure if the fact that she ended up with $160,000 rather than the $6000 she asked for was the intent of these guys. Hey, it could have been. Stranger things happen on the internet. More likely, the douchebag crowd was just jumping on the latest bandwagon with their buddies, but I wish I could piss people off so much that my mortgage got paid. That’s sheer brilliance.
If you read my first post, you’ll notice that I’m actually complaining about a certain lack of sexism. I’m complaining about a reduction of mancandy in my favorite games. Yes, that’s right. I’m the sort of feminist who, rather than making fictional women more serious, actually wants to make men equally objectified so I can enjoy them. When you think about it, that kind of makes me a sexist pig.
Something like this, I just can’t appreciate:
Too many?! There’s never too many!
Well, I can appreciate the video, but not so much the message it’s trying to get across. I freely admit that video games might as well be copies of Playgirl. Assassin’s Creed? Hot. I don’t want any more girls in that game. It’s fine the way it is, and I mean fine.
The more I think about it, the more I realize I’m a terrible feminist. My favorite authors are men. My favorite musicians are men. My favorite artists are men. And I’m not ashamed of any of this. I like men.
And Strong Female Characters are such a turn-off. I love you, Kate.
So I sit down and I try to think of female characters in video games that I really like.
FemShepard from the Mass Effect series and FemHawke from Dragon Age 2 are great protagonists. Too bad their writers don’t share my opinion when it comes to giving them heterosexual bedroom opportunities. Yes, I am that shallow.
I like Jack from Mass Effect 2, but she wusses out so terribly as a love interest. Shale from Dragon Age: Origins is amazing. Sylvanas and Moira Thaurissan from World of Warcraft. Shantotto from Final Fantasy 11. Beatrice from Final Fantasy 9. They all have some qualities in common with favorite male characters: unrepentant villainy, sheer believable rage, ludicrously useful intellect. Jack, Sylvanas, and Beatrice have a certain ‘attempting to appeal to men’ visual quality, but as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t detract from their strength.
Catwoman is a prime example. I love her. She’s been visually and conceptually abused by ‘the male eye’ from day one, but she’s practically the definition of the raging, villainous, intellectual female character, so she could be wearing nothing but a French maid apron and sparkly nipple tassels, and I’d still think she’s awesome.
But the number of female characters for whom I have a passionate dislike is fairly extensive:
- Satele Shan from Star Wars: The Old Republic — capital B Boring. I can’t think of a single female NPC in TOR that isn’t boring, stupid, or nasty, but maybe I’ll be surprised before I’m finished.
- Bastila Shan from Knights of the Old Republic — gah, obnoxious.
- Liara T’soni from the Mass Effect series. She tries way too hard. It’s quite sad.
- Leah from Diablo 3 — absolutely pathetic.
- Dagger and Eiko from Final Fantasy 9. Were they supposed to be loli? Because they were just dumb.
- Jaina from the Warcraft series — lamesauce overpowered-yet-useless goody-two-shoes.
- Leliana and Isabela from Dragon Age and Dragon Age 2 — catty and boring, utterly unsympathetic.
- Rinoa from Final Fantasy 8. She might as well have been a cardboard cut out.
- Bayonetta was a laugh for about 30 seconds.
- Vanille from Final Fantasy 13 made it impossible for me to play that game.
- Yuna from Final Fantasy X. I absolutely hated her, burning passion of a thousand suns hatred. Couldn’t play that game, either. The Hymn of the Fayth perpetually making my ears bleed did not help.
To name just a few.
But does the fact that I fawn over men and have a tendency to hate other women mean I’m about to start cooking dinner? Ha! Fat chance.
Does it mean I don’t think women can do a great deal of jobs better than men and should be more appreciated in the work force? No. Equality isn’t where it should be yet, even if history insists it’s getting a lot better and has come a long way.
So YouTube jerk patrol, Anita’s going to be making her videos. They’ll probably be of excellent quality given that she now has the funds to do whatever she wants with them. And you know what? Even though female tropes aren’t really on my radar because I’m a sexist pig, and I rabidly joined in the berating of Jennifer Hepler because I like to play games rather than read them, I am also going to enjoy Anita’s videos. Just to spite you. Thank you very much for bringing her to my attention.