The whole Skullgirls sexism row is silly.
This isn’t to say that Skullgirls artist Alex Ahad is correct in his assumption that just because his lead artist is a woman, therefore it isn’t sexist. Skullgirls – with its blatant over-sexualisation, anime tones and highlights and comically inflated boobs covered often by not very much, is sexist. But in a comic, light-hearted tone one would assume – it’s a silly game with a silly concept and silly anime girls beating each other up. The kind of thing guys pay £9.99 a night for on the Adult Channels.
No, it’s silly because the media – who are reacting so harshly in their chivalrous and protective manner – really aren’t much better.
I am a guy. I played online gaming, and – guess what people? – I played with girls and women of all ages. I met a wonderful mother of three who was forty-two, and a student who was 19 who had what people called “PSOV”. You can google that. In my many, many years of exposure I came to realise that when it came to “nerd”, the girls are just as capable as the guys – and growing in numbers too.
The women in the world don’t play what we guys assume them to play – I’ve spoken to girls who raid top-end in World of Warcraft; debated and gone over the entirity of Final Fantasy X with them. We’ve discussed the ins and outs of Mario Kart, we’ve agreed that GTA has no place in the world anymore and that Square-Enix’s last truly great game was probably Vagrant Story.
And yet, women in the gaming media are often woefully under-represented, and we as the guys often assume because of this we need to stand up for the fairer sex, because we don’t want to offend them.
Here’s a quote from one I was talking about this with; “Skullgirls looks like a blast! Hope it plays as good as it looks!”.
No offence, no anger, no nothing. Just a girl gamer wanting and hoping a fighter with all-anime girls plays as good as it looks.
I think we, as guys, often do this. We all too often think we’re protecting the “girls”, but in fact we’re kind of smothering them in a fairly old-fashioned viewpoint. The girls I know and play with don’t want to be protected, don’t want to be talked down to. They will kick your ass if they get any hint of you going easy on them, they are tough and fierce. They’ve earned their roles in the gaming world, in the clans and guilds and communities they are a part of. They want to be equals – not a cute addition to the squad.
We, as male gamers, may have to concede that female gamers are out there, and there are lots of them. It may not be a 50/50 playing field yet, but it’s certainly a 60/40 divide these days. They are as opinionated as us, vulgar as us and as capable of saying nasty, crude and hurtful things as us.
Girl gamer used to be a cute but derogatory term. These days, they just prefer to be bundled in the Gamer tag – and until we get to grips with this, misplaced chivalry and politeness will continue to be misconstrued as sexist, chauvinistic male rubbish.
If we want equality, we have to stop assuming that girls can’t see the sexism. They absolutely can.
And most of them, quite simply, don’t care as long as the games are good.
I’ll drink with them to that.