One thing you will learn is that I hate gender roles.
I do! I really do. I hate the notion that because people are men and women (or perceived as such) they are designated to certain roles in popular media.
And video games, god bless ‘em, are some of the worst offenders for that. Now, I know there are women in games that don’t adhere to those roles, but let’s be honest, they are few and far-between.
More often than not, women are shuffled into caregiver roles: Magic beings who guide the misbegotten male along on his destined path. Or we are the crazy bitch who want to kill the brave protagonists.
Yes, I know, there are games that have females in strong roles. Before you bombard me with examples, let me give you a few.
Let’s take a look at the Gears of War series. It spans over three games (so far) that star “The Gears,” genetically modified soldiers who have been fighting to defend their world from alien invaders. But wait a moment – most of the soldiers seem to be men. Well, whatever. It’s a world different from Earth. But wait another moment! The only women you see/hear from are Anya Stroud, a communications officer and Alex Brand, one of the few front-line Gears.
As you play along the game, you learn that most women don’t see combat. In fact, most women are put into something called a “birthing program” where they are fed hormones from the age of ten so they can be impregnated over and over again to help with the dwindling human population. They are raped by a “Warden” and if that doesn’t work, they are scientifically inseminated. Alex in particular was left at the mercy of higher decorated GEARS as a reward. But it’s okay, because the women who aren’t able to give birth are put into combat. So they get to be useful either way!
Wait, did I say okay? I meant it’s gross. These women are forced into it if they don’t choose to go into these programs. They are brainwashed to want to give birth, because the more babies you have, the better treatment you get. And the only way women get to see combat is if they cannot be forced into these facilities because they are barren. They are renounced of their main purpose (motherhood), becoming indistinguishable from their male counterparts.
“But they get to see combat!” you cry. “They don’t fall into that stereotype. You should be happy!”
Yes, they get to kick ass. But at the sacrifice of themselves. Alex was tortured and it made her a badass. But is that the only way women can be badass? If they face some sort of torture or rape to make them hate the world and everything in it? Can’t they just be badass with no tragic back story and that is the end of it? Or is that normally left for male characters?
I don’t know. It’s changing, but not fast enough for me.