Sexism and Video Games

By Tyanna Young

The objectification of women in video games is something that is very common today. Women are featured as either the prize one wins when beating the game or if she is the main character, she is scantily clad with humongous breasts. The whole goal of any Mario game is to save the princess, a stereotype of the helpless, vulnerable women. The proportions on these fetishized women like Ivy from Soul Caliber and Lara Croft from Tomb Raider are ridiculously unrealistic, even more so than the Barbie doll. No woman I know that has double d boobs also wears a size 28 waist. There is an argument I’ve been seeing on websites that claim that these women are shown as strong, positive characters and that this makes the case of sexism irrelevant. What makes these characters sexist is the fact that they seem to say that a character can only be appealing if they are sexually desirable to men. These femme fatales are living out some adolescent boy’s fantasy. Any woman who kicks ass probably isn’t doing it in a thong.

 Most video games are male centered and the target audience for video games is men. Why is this? We put children, even before they are born, into gender roles. If you are having a boy, you paint the room blue, give them trucks and trains to play with and eventually, you buy them video games. As they say, boys will be boys, so games that include rape, murder, and other criminal offenses are apparently what we consider being a boy. Most parents shrug it off as they are just games, not real life. The thing is, video games influence our train of thought and the way we perceive things. A video game may not cause a man to go out and rape, but his attitude towards women, especially those in the sex industry, is extremely altered due to years of video games. Games are cultural mediums, things that represent our society’s ideologies. Therefore, having women be sex objects, like in the prostitution mini-game in Grand Theft Auto, contribute to the construct of patriarchy in American Society. In GTA, the player can increase his health by sleeping with a prostitute. After the deed is done, the player has the option to let the woman go or murder her to get the money spent back. What does this tell growing children? That rape will make you more powerful? That sex is refundable? Maybe nothing at all, but the fact that children are exposed to this violence and mistreatment of women at such a young age is something that bothers me and makes me understand how stereotypes can become reinforced.

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