Sexism has been deeply institutionalized long before the dawn of the modern era. Throughout the twentieth century, woman have struggled to bring attention to the many barriers that have laid before us. Great strides were made to enter the workforce, and now great strides to be valued as equals wage on daily. Progress has been made, but many venues have been left untouched, and continue to press standards upon young men and women daily.
The crowning media source for objectification and discrimination is the video game industry. Throughout the history of gaming, woman have always played the role of a fighting sex object, or- the object which needs saved or attained. For example, when Nintendo finally revealed that Samus was indeed female, she crawled out of her armor to show off a body that’s akin to a Barbie doll. That was still in the 90s, and though time has passed, the habit of making females out to be tools of sex has not.
Today, some of the most acclaimed video games have no playable female characters. Grand Theft Auto leads the crowd of modern video games that has yet to include a playable female character. The animators claim it would have taken too much work to accomplish that goal, a reason that has become frequent to game designers when asked about their deliberate sexism. To extend upon that, games which do include female characters, have a horrible habit of putting every stage of a woman’s life into a box. Is she a child? She’ll be a fighter with an attitude. Is she a young adult? She wants love, and more skimpy clothes. Is she an elderly woman? She’s decrepit and an omen of ill-will.
Regardless of the kicking and screaming, no woman-no matter what age is safe from the standards created in games for them. What’s worse is that video games remain the one media source it’s okay to bring back what we’ve already worked so hard to overcome. In the case of Grand Theft Auto, women play the role of hooker or gold-digger. Across the board, women are rarely treated with a role that entitles equality. Some games highlight female characters, but even when the women are confident, their promiscuous.
This deliberate sexism isn’t toxic to just young women, though. Young men love video games, and in many cases their first crushes are the women depicting in them. With that being said, a young man’s standard for women is driven into the ground. Not only are they given an unrealistic physical expectation, but they have been provided with derogatory archetypes in which to sort the women they happen upon in to. Young women suffer in many of the ways they do everywhere else, a standard of beauty that seems untouchable. One that isn’t defined by academia or individuality, but rather the body. The one thing in our lives that we don’t get to choose.
Altogether, the video game industry needs the attention of young men and women. Only the fans of the game industry, hold any power in changing their design; to call upon animators and designers, and request a game that isn’t demeaning to the image and equality of women. From the way gaming actresses are treated and represented, a culture of misogyny is reinforced.