There's been a rather large amount of articles popping up on the web recently having to do with misogyny in video games and the culture surrounding it. The sudden appearance of so many at once is hardly remarkable, as they are in large part spawned by a recent event where a professor asked Seth Killian,the community manager for Street Fighter, about the overt amount of sexuality and immodesty in the female characters (specifically Cammy and her prominently featured thonged buttocks), and its empowering the current misogynist culture at fighting game tournaments and in gamers in general. While the amount of articles is hardly unsurprising, as the internet loves nothing more than debates and flame wars, my personal reaction to these articles was. As a woman who also happens to adore gaming, a part of me felt that I was obligated to join this chorus of articles decrying sexy women in video games, or risk having to turn in my 'Girl Gamer' card. Despite the personal risk, however, I find that I cannot agree with the recent chorus of female voices about this issue; in fact, I resent being lumped into this recent movement by the sole reason of my sex.
I imagine that you might be surprised at reading this; after all, how could a woman be in favor of fellow members of her sex being portrayed as big-breasted, bikini-wearing warriors, or something else incredibly unrealistic? Does this mean that she believes women deserve to be treated as objects? Does this mean she's in favor of sexual harassment, that it's excusable? I can almost hear the shrill voices berating me in my head. First of all, I would like to state that sexual harassment is inexcusable; I have unfortunately had the experience first hand of what it does to you to be told to 'wear something lower cut and show your tits more, you'll get better sales' or 'I'd like to dip my pen in the company ink'; I would not wish the struggle to just go into work every day in those conditions on anyone. The reason why I can look calmly at pictures of Ivy from Soul Calibur and her F cups without getting upset, and still feel my hackles raise at the mere suggestion of someone suffering from sexual harassment is quite simple: I don't feel that the two issues are connected in anyway.
I have often heard the argument that demeaning women in video games, with their unrealistic breast sizes and revealing clothing, leads to gamers being more likely to practice sexual harassment in real life. I disagree; video games are entertainment, a fantasy, and anyone who treats them differently is either mentally unbalanced, or already more prone to those behaviors from past life-events or how they were raised. Ironically, many people who have stridently proclaimed that skimpily dressed females in video games lead directly to real-life sexual harassment also fiercely protect violent video games as being unrelated to causing violence in real-life. The contradictory nature of this position astounds me. Either video games are capable of making people engage in all socially unacceptable behavior, or they are not capable of encouraging people to act in any; you can't have it both ways. It is not my point to say that there are not real instances of misogyny, sexism, and sexual harassment in the gaming world, and that it is unfortunate. Women, homosexuals, minorities.... all people have the rightto be treated with respect, as a human being, as a person, in their jobs, hobbies, and daily interactions. I am simply stating that as a conduit for fantasy, sexual content in video games are not the cause of those issues,and focusing so much energy and attention on Cammy's butt does nothing more than take time away from finding and fixing the real root of these evils. As long as a person is pleasant to me, and treats me with the respect I deserve as a human being, I could care less how many pin-ups of Mai from King of Fighters they might have in the privacy of their own room.
In addition, the argument that women should not be portrayed in such a sexual manner in video games is one-sided; the same argument could be made towards men. Many male characters in video games are also 'demeaned and hyper-sexualized', though it might be a little less apparent, as every male character is hardly wearing a thong (thankfully...). I can't even count the amount of times I've heard that 'such and such, in her bikini chain-mail, is hardly dressed appropriately to go to war; that clothing won't protect her at all'. The version of Dante in Devil May Cry 3 is hardly appropriately-attired either; I seriously doubt that his red coat over his shirtless, chiseled chest is going to be that effective in stopping demon claws from ripping into him. Even if male video game characters happen to be properly attired for battle, they are usually not appropriately proportioned. The pectoral muscles of the men in Gears of War are just as ridiculously huge and unrealistic as the mammary glands of the girls in Dead or Alive, and if you object to one, you should object just as strenuously to the other.
Related to that, the final reason I have no problem with girls showing some skin in video games is this: I hate being a hypocrite. As demanding adherence to a certain behavior that I myself dis-regard is the epitome of hypocrisy, I have no right to criticize the sexy women in video games without first giving up my enjoyment of the sexy men. Yes, that's right, I enjoy the attractive men in video games. I likedthat Dante didn't have a shirt on in Devil May Cry 3, I love Sephiroth's completely impractical and unrealistic facial features and long flowing hair, and Lucifer's see-through, half-buttoned shirt in El Shaddai was delicious. I can hardly criticize my male friends for finding Cammy's behind appealing, or any other female character they might find attractive. Again, video games, for both sexes, are forms of fantasy and entertainment, and as I have as much a chance of going on a date with Dante as I do Johnny Depp, I fail to see the harm in enjoying it as simply that. I respect the right of others, especially other women, to disagree with me, as long as they respect my right to do the same to them. I do not agree that misogyny exists in the gaming world because of the overly-sexual design of female characters, and I don't have to 'just because I'm a woman'. Hopefully I still have my 'Girl Gamer' card after this, but honestly, even if I don't, it won't change anything. I am, have been, and always will be, simply a person who honestly loves video games, and nothing will prevent me from enjoying them as the form of entertainment they are.... or continuing my silly, harmless crush on Dante. He really is quite sexy, you know.