I feel like im listening to Sansa Stark talking about women in videogames and i want to cry because this is everything that i feel.
This is my problem with the imagery of putting Zelda in a tunic or Peach in overalls or the Zelda reboot by Aaron Diaz. Which isn’t to say these are with ill intentions or there is something wrong with women wearing male apparel, but with Sarkeesian and Diaz comes the implication that women acting masculine are of more worth, that if they’re in a dress and are acting feminine, that that is an issue that needs fixing.
It’s the same sort of mind set that people see Ygritte as a better character than Sansa Stark. Ygritte, a wonderful character mind you, being a warrior in animal pelts who lives out in the wild among wild men while Sansa Stark, another wonderful character, being a young girl who wanted nothing more than to grow up and be a queen in a near fairy tale sense who has constantly had her hopes and dreams shattered and taken away yet has had the smarts to survive living with Joffrey for years. If Ygritte were in her position (and vice versa), she’d most certainly be dead.
Good counter point! It’s a sort of video that makes me happy Tropes vs Women exists because we get this kind of discussion out of it.
Good, good video. I admit, I kinda had to pause it early on when it talks about strength being never giving up in times of great distress, because honestly, isn’t that a better story anyway? The weakling with unbreakable hope, rather than the tough guy who comes in and stomps all the baddies?
Shifting to the other hand, I can also understand and agree with having a problem with a “damsel in distress”, but not simply because the girl isn’t the hero and can’t fight for herself. The problem is that ultimately, no matter how important they are in the story, even if it’s named after them like Legend of Zelda, they are secondary to the protagonist. They are not the Player Character. They are not having the adventure, they are not exploring the world, they are not making choices and having to take chances to find victory.
It’s sort of the sticking point behind a related problem, The Smurfette Principle. As a girl, growing up, I really wanted to have a big adventure like that. But most of the adventure games I played were about male characters, or in a rare case (Mischief Makers jumps to mind) a tomboyish girl. So, I came to the conclusion that being masculine was the same as being courageous and in control of my life, and being feminine was the same as being submissive and in the background of someone else’s life. It’s taken me until my early 20s to realize that it can actually be fun to be girly, and it doesn’t mean I have to immediately surrender my backbone.
So, as much as I love Peach and Zelda, it does sort of sting a little that two of the biggest franchises in video gaming exemplify this. But how is getting rid of them an answer? Actually, it seems like the problem is better remedied with something that’s already been happening over time: A stronger narrative.
Not to knock minimalist storytelling, but Peach and Zelda were weakest back in the simple NES era. They really didn’t matter then. They were a blank to fill in the “goal” part of a very simple story, and could have been replaced with anything else, like rescuing your baby brother or getting a shiny medal to hang on the wall. But then the hardware became strong enough to handle larger games, including a larger narrative. They could build up more, aspire towards greater rewards. You could actually feel like you were saving an entire kingdom. Or the world! And it also provided room to develop more characters, and to a greater depth. Back in the NES days, did we know Peach as the kind, beloved-by-all sweetheart as we do today? And how exactly were we supposed to tell that Zelda didn’t just have that Triforce of Wisdom for show? As the characters developed, so have their roles. Besides all the sports and party side games, we’ve seen Peach do everything from be the Mario of the game (Super Princess Peach) to actually playing a role in politics and diplomacy (Mario & Luigi series) to being the key to destroying the world (Paper Mario series). And Zelda started high as being the holder of the Triforce of Wisdom, but has still managed to be both a pirate (Wind Waker) and a ninja (Ocarina of Time). And I haven’t had the chance to play Skyward Sword, but I’ve heard that it totally rips off the Lunar storyline, so I presume she’s a goddess now as well?
We don’t need to burn the dresses and smash the crowns, we just need to show — or rather, to keep showing — that they’re not a ball and chain. That anyone can have an adventure, whether they’re male or female, princess or peasant, the chosen one or just someone who wouldn’t give up even after everyone else did.