Ezrik shared something with me, which was… both hilarious and upsetting. We have this sort of mutual friend — though I don’t talk to him much, if at all in the last year, and who annoys me — who I’ll just call Pandaman for the sake of things, and he was upset that some game on Steam was tagged with ‘female protagonist.’
Pandman:…So, just saw a game on Steam tagged with “Female Protagonist.” Fucking sexist women, labeling that game. (Ezrik asks how it’s sexist) Focusing on her gender. That doesn’t make the game any different just cause the protagonist is a woman. Puts undue amount of attention on gender when there’s no need. Now I gotta go and label all the games with guys as protagonist as “Male Protagonist”, since apparently that matters.
Direct quotes from the conversation, though with mere indicators of Ezrik’s replies.
I think the funniest part is how he seems to think because games aren’t labeled male protagonist it means that they’re not being represented — or less that and more that he feels pointing out females means we’re trying to make them more important…. which is true, we are. We’re trying to make it so that females can be more predominant in roles in games; hell, if we could get so far as labeling all forms of representation it’d let people find games in which they feel they could have some investment.
But no, Pandaman thinks that women wanting to have a bit of representation is somehow sexist because men don’t label their games ‘male protagonist‘. He doesn’t seem to realise that you don’t HAVE to label games that way as the majority of games are featuring a male lead. Hell, even in the Zelda series (in which the titular character isn’t even the protagonist) it’s pretty much a Link game instead, hence all the ‘Zelda’s a cool dude’ meme jokes.
In his attempt to call something sexist though, he also made a sexist assumption that women were the ones labeling it as female protagonist, because no male could ever care that a female was a lead in a game because men are dudes and dudes are bros and fuck feminism /tips fedora.
Ezrik has grown a lot since I first met him and made the points I would, before the conversation got stupid and he just let the point go, it was as follows:
Ezrik: They specifically label female protagonists because in 85% of games, it’s men who are the ‘hero’ of the story. And females are mainly used as a sort of sex symbol, or some kind of prize to be won.
Ezrik: And not everybody wants to play that kind of stuff.
Pandaman: …That doesn’t make it any less of a sexist issue. If you really want equality, you can’t go making either gender singled out or made special.
Ezrik: If gender equality were an actual thing, then they wouldn’t have to label it.
Pandman: But by labeling it, they are furthering the issue.
“If you really want equality, you can’t go making either gender singled out or made special.” Well, exactly, I couldn’t have said it better myself, but as the role in games (even with the current influx if some female fronted games it’s still the vast minority) is predominantly male, they are represented far harder than the female demographic. If you break that down further, even in most female fronted games they’re straight white women, or gay white women, and therefor STILL not even coming close to breaking the issues we have with representation.
But with every guy who thinks that ‘meninist‘ is a thing, or that feminism is about misandry — the two are mutually exclusive, by the way — we fall five steps back from people feeling comfortable about these things.
This isn’t to say that everything made by a female or a minority is inherently good because of that, but it does mean that they shouldn’t be immediately shunted into the trash chute because someone doesn’t feel comfortable that they’re trying to have their voice heard. How dare those radical feminists label their games female protagonist so other girls in games can put themselves in the shoes of someone they want to, if that’s their comfort. By that logic no games should have any labels or marketing period because you’re bringing too much of the ‘issue’ to the forefront.
One last gem, I promise.
Pandaman: It’s kinda like how Taylor Swift has haters, and by making a song saying she doesn’t care, she earned MORE haters.
It wasn’t about getting the haters to leave her alone, that’ll never happen, it’s about trying to teach girls that you can stand up for yourself, have these feelings and issues, and if haters exist… let them. Let them sit on their cushions and rage at you for being you, but have the guts to stand up for yourself and be unapologetic about your voice; let yourself be heard and don’t let the haters stop you.
Bring it on, haters, equality is something worth getting shit on for.
P.S. In editing/formatting this I noticed that originally I typed Male Protagonist, yet always typed female protagonist. It’s a weird little note but it’s sort of indicative of the deeply ingrained issues that come from shit like this.