Gender Stereotypes In Video Games Essay

1671 words - 7 pages

In Georgia Warnke’s book Debating Sex and Gender, Gayle Rubin recognizes sex as the “raw material” of the bodies of female and male human beings, while gender pertains to the roles and functions those human beings have in society and the culture of which they are a part of. Rubin states that sexism is the general phenomenon in which females become “domesticated women”, or workhorses for men. Rubin wrote her influential essay The Traffic in Women in 1975, yet her definitions of sex, gender, and sexism are still applicable today.
The issues that Rubin addressed are demonstrated in particular in today’s media, which reinforces gender inequality and objectification, through the depiction of ...view middle of the document...

Workers could make these garments in their own homes at a lower cost than manufacturers, so employers started to hire more workers in domestic settings. As custom tailors started to lose their market share of the garment industry, they fought for laws that would require garment work to be done in shops (Warnke 93). Tailors argued that they possessed an expertise, which was practiced in a business establishment and provided a superior product; while those who sewed garments at home were merely unskilled seamstresses that sewed at night after domestic chores were done (Warnke 93). In other words, tailors were men who were skillful at tailoring, while seamstresses were women who did trivial work that anyone could do. Seamstresses insisted that their work was equivalent to tailors and they deserved to be paid the same and receive the same voting rights as men did.
Eventually, seamstresses lost this dispute in favor of the tailors, thus constructing a gendered workforce in which the skills of certain professions were associated by the gender of those doing them; women were associated with unskilled and therefore lesser work, while so-called “male” professions were thereby associated with skilled and professional work (Warnke 93). This is just one example of the social constructs of gender that have existed through much of history, which continue to be upheld in the 21st century society through the media.
The gender stereotypes that portrayed women as weak and lesser than men might have been created in the 19th century, but still exist today and are being perpetuated in video games. A study published in 2014 by the Internet Advertising Bureau revealed that more than fifty-two percent of people who play games are women. This statistic begs the question then, why, if the video game community is majority female, the portrayal of women in popular video games is so overwhelmingly negative. One example of a video game that exemplifies these negative characteristics of gender – and particularly women – is Grand Theft Auto. In Grand Theft Auto, women are perceived as weak, overly sexualized, and a nuisance to the player. Women in Grand Theft Auto are considered background decoration, which Anita Sarkeesian describes as “the subset of largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players.” (Narcisse). The women in Grand Theft Auto fulfill the idea of background decoration not only because they play minor narrative roles in the overall game, but also because they are shallow characters with little to no personality or individuality. This is particularly the case when compared with the male characters, who are all hyper-masculine, tough “thugs” and always the main characters.
Video games such as Grand Theft...

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