Recently, there has been something of an uproar over the presumed rape of Lara in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. Though Crystal Dynamics did post a statement on their site concerning the scene, it has brought to the forefront once again the question of sexism in video games. It’s no secret that women are always hyper-sexualized in almost any game they are in; be it the total lack of armor on Ivy in Soul Caliber games or the presentation of the protagonist in Grasshopper’s recent Lollipop Chainsaw. However, one thing that the gaming press never seems to address is the fact that, oftentimes, men are just as subject to sexism as females are in video games.
I could cite a ton of research done by Dr. such-and-such talking about the portrayal of men in the media, but let’s keep this short and to the point. Walk into any Abercrombie clothing store, watch a commercial for the most recent home gym, or any action flick and you will find a common theme: these dude’s are ripped. While drinking a protein shake with their right hand, they have some babe or a machine gun in the other. They are islands of all that is masculine.
Now, let’s check out how video games differ from that. I’ll take it you are probably going to see as many striking similarities as I am. Take the shirt off your male character in Skyrim and bear witness to the physical perfection of his abdominal region. Look at Ryu’s gargantuan arms in Street Fighter 4. Notice the male protagonist in many Japanese RPG’s: as leaders with female followers. Think about all of the cold-blooded killers devoid of emotion, whose boots you step into in just about any FPS title. Certainly, all of these things put males in an advantageous position over females; but that’s just it. Why are men so often expected to be strong, physically perfect, emotionally handicapped leaders who formulate the plan for victory – women in tow?
We rarely think of it, but it is clear that men are subject to just as much sexism and stereotyping as women are in video games. If anything, the press – who seem to be on an endless search for yet another headline that defames video games – should be more concerned about what these things are telling the children they are trying to protect how they have to be. Who are we trying to impress by focusing only on the fact that women are stereotyped? It is just as easy to see that men are as well.
Video games are a form of escapism for many, so it makes sense that the men depicted in them are unlike what many men would be like in reality. However, if we are going to point out every instance of a scantily clad chick in the most recent fighting title, we should also be cognizant of how often they are fighting right alongside a guy that is in no way, shape or form representational of any realistic expectation of what a man should be.
Do you think that men are just as subject to sexism as women are? What are some examples that stand out to you? Is any of this worth talking about? Let us know in the comments below!