Monday, October 20, 2014

What is a gender stereotype?

How should a woman be shown to the audience as a woman? Should they have a bow in their hair? Wear a dress? Dress in pink? Why is it that in books, films, TV and video games it is automatically thought that most characters will be male that when a female is introduced that the character has to be given something to identity them as female?

Sometimes it's stupid and pointless and not necessary. Look at Mrs Pac Man. She's Pac Man with a bow and lipstick. Mrs Pac Man doesn't need to exist. Pac Man is a circle with a mouth that eats fruit and ghosts. Mrs Pac Man was invented so the game would appeal the women. Why did the developers think that the game wouldn't appeal to women without a character that wears lippy? Growing up I loved Nintendo games. Yeah, sure, I would've loved more female characters, but that didn't stop me from playing as Link or as Mario. I had no problem playing as them. What's annoying about Mrs Pac Man is how sexualised she is compared to Pac Man. She wears a feather boa, has long legs, and puckers her lips. She is a big yellow circle. If you want to have a female version of a male character - fine - but why does she have to be so over the top and over sexualised compared to her male counterpart who remains a circle with just a mouth?

And then look at Candy Kong from the Donkey Kong series.

I adore Donkey Kong but Candy has always bugged me. Why the big boobs, the blonde hair, and the red lips? I'm re-playing Donkey Kong county at the moment and when you go and visit Candy she blows kisses at Donkey and sticks her butt out.

It is lazy writing to show female characters like the above two examples. Why is it that we put so much importance on a female character's attractiveness? Why do female characters have to have long legs, big boobs, make up and pose seductively?

I am not anti-pink or anti-sex appeal. Look at Dixie Kong.

Dixie is my favourite character in the Donkey Kong games because her pig tails allow her to fly. Dixie is an example of a good female version of a male character. You know she is female because of her long blonde hair and pink clothes and eyelashes. And that's where her female-ness ends. She isn't over sexual like Candy or Mrs Pac Man. She doesn't bat her eyelashes, make kissy faces, or wear a tight outfit.

She is playable and she is often required to complete a level. She has unique abilities that no one else has. She is not just Diddy Kong in a pink top with blonde hair. Diddy cannot fly. Dixie can. She is not his clone. She is completely different. She also has a personality that makes her different from Diddy and Donkey. She is not a bad stereotype like Candy or a male clone of a character like Mrs Pac Man is. She even stars in Donkey Kong Country 3.

How do you define a character as female? Dressing a character in pink and giving them traditional "female" looks like long eyelashes, a piggy tail, or make up is not bad. It's okay to like pink and pig tails and make up. It's when characters are over sexualised or just a male clone of another character that I get annoyed. It's unoriginal and lazy.

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