I don’t think I have made it a point to tell you a secret: I am female. I have done all the things normal women have done – reached puberty, perfected the art of applying liquid eyeliner, painted my nails, sewed my own skirt, pined for a certain boy, got married, birthed a child, etc. It is safe to say I know how to be a woman, simply because I am. Cogito ergo sum, but I am no Descartes.
I do know one thing for certain, though. Here’s what it is like to be a woman on the internet: be prepared for a barrage of sexual advances such as you have never seen. No matter what age, weight, height or even if, in fact, you are a woman. Most especially if you are a female gamer. Want to play a quick game of…anything? Too bad, because you’d rather stare at some stranger’s sack of balls, right? It’s only natural.
Even if you look past the riff-raff that seems to loiter about like a pack of starving wolves, you still have to contend with all the gaming companies pushing boobs into your face. Woman only want to motorboat other women’s breasts, right? I mean, that’s what happens when a gaggle of women drink wine and have sleepovers, right?
Do you see what I am doing here? Probably not. Have you read this far? Let me lay it down for you gently.
Stereotypes are everywhere, and none so prevalent as the world that exists inside the internet and video games. It is monstrously arrogant of anyone to assume that because they have produced a piece of something it is automatically X. This logic can pertain to anything. My parents formed me from a sperm and an egg. The cells divided for near on 9 months with a double X chromosome and thus I was born – a female. As a female I am thrust into a world where I am told what to think, feel, wear, eat, read, write, etc. And because of these things I do, or don’t do, I am either amazing or disgusting.
Take video games, for example. It is wholly alien to me that this modern world, with all its advancements, is still so sexist. I am not referring to the games themselves. No. I am referring to obtaining any enjoyment from them. I can thank my father for introducing me to video games. Here, I can parade around the internet and gaming servers as a woman, anytime I want, and feel empowered. No one thinks twice of the female gamer. She must have her life together. After all, women are expected to do everything and still have time for recreation. In a completely patriarchal world, she has found her niche and held her ground. Bravo! She has won at feminism.
A man, though? A man playing video games is something to be ostracized from society. Look at him wasting his time with something that cannot even bring monetary gain to any household! How is he supposed to support his family, if all he does is lounge about all day eating junk food and sitting in front of the television? How is he supposed to find a nice girl that will bear him children with all these video games?
That, my friends, is sexism. And we haven’t even gotten to the meat of the story yet.
I am not trying to bring any more discord between men and women, mind you. I am fairly certain a sort of gender utopia can exist. Not today, though.
Here in the video gaming world rests the sum of our creativity; blending art, writing and technology into an experience virtually anyone may enjoy. It is so avant-garde, it isn’t avant-garde and I’m not sure we will see the ripples of what they have done to our psyche for many years to come. Like most art (which encompasses all genres, not just imagery), it is a reflection on what we are feeling at this very moment as a whole. And it is a world mainly dominated by men. How ironic, I have mused in the past, that while women can create life with their bodies, men answer this by creating life with art. As a poet, I know their struggle and applaud their efforts.
Yes, even some of the most romantic scenes depicted; whether they be in art, books, or any other media, have been written by men. I do not wish to downplay the role of women in the creative world, but let me finish my point.
With this in mind, it is easy to point the finger at men when something offensive occurs. They are men; manly men set on exploiting women for personal gain. Can’t you hear them cackling as they take your money? All men ever want is one thing: sex. And from one gender: women. Leonardo Da Vinci painted a naked woman because he was a man! The scoundrel!
Nevermind the fact that Leonardo is speculated to have been homosexual. Or had painted a commission based upon a request. Or maybe he just felt like painting some breasts. Is there something inherently wrong with that?
I don’t think so.
There is a difference between being vulgar and being unobtrusive. Very often art likes to blur these lines, but if only to mirror the difference between cerebral appeal and sexual exploitation. And men are not solely to blame here; with many video games implementing character creation systems more and more, it is just as easy to make an unattractive character as it is to make an attractive one. Yet who of us gallivants around with an unattractive character? A small population, judging from my time on any given server.
There has been, and will invariably be, a socially constructed standard of beauty; particularly in regards to women. It is up to males, as much as females, to challenge these ideals.
“no one in this world can you trust. not men, not women, not beasts. this you can trust.”