Women in WoW - is there a right way to do it?
Women in WoW is a topic that seems to go around every time there is a new female model. Godmother raised it again, and Erinys wrote a response, both of which inspire and fire my mind into action yet again.
Certain comments stand out from each of my friends with their thought provoking posts.
Ultimately, the way women are portrayed in games has less to do with what women actually look like (and by that I mean all the beautiful body shapes that exist and not the narrow band certain sectors of the media decide are desirable) and more to do with the notion of what some men THINK women look like.
But in a fantasy game what do YOU want to look like? If the whole online world was populated by less than attractive females would people want to play? Why do female players, make their toons look beautiful when we want to accept people to look less than beautiful? Shoudn't we then, be setting our own examples?
Deep down, almost everyone wants to look good, even though we do accept ourselves and others the way they are, or are proud of the way we look. I am by no means a beauty and I take no pride in my physical appearance, but I do like to make my character look pretty - I put nice clothes on her and make her weapons match her outfits or mounts. In a fantasy game, you want everything to look good because that is the core of what this is - a fantasy game. A fantasy game where you are a hero, you are strong, you save lives, you are attractive and athletic,
Should we make bosses ugly? Does this mean that it's ok to beat up on people because they look ugly, or that all ugly things are monster? Should we make more bosses female? Are we then teaching kids it's ok to beat up on women? Should we make all of our toons look less than beautiful and all the bosses beautiful and the make it a crime to be attractive and beautiful - ie "OMG she's so attractive let's kick the crap out of her right now, how dare she be beautiful!"
Perhaps it is churlish of me, but I admire females who play the non "beautiful" races. And before anyone starts to slag me off about "how dare you say this class is not beautiful" - what I'm trying to say is that races such as Pandaren, Tauren, Dwarf, Troll, Orc are less classically beautiful (they don't look like sex-sticks when they're wearing things like Robes of the Guardian Saint) but that's not to say they are not beautiful races. Seeing female players with blood elves, humans, draenei, or night elves running around in plate bikinis and skimpy outfits and then telling me that "we shouldn't project this image of women as sex objects", feels like a double standard to me. Godmother and Erinys are not one of those people, fortunately, nor is Applecidermage. Godmother said:
...It's up to us, folks, we have the power, especially in this Community...and the change can't just start with the developers and designers. We have to be part of that change too.
Erinys was looking at WoW saying that there are very few women to look up to - everyone seems to be dead (eg Mankrik's wife), off having babies (eg Aggra), or twisted by the machinations of males (eg. Keristrazsa)
I look at WoW and the closest images there are to my female role models are Magatha Grimtotem, a minor but compelling villain, one who might not reappear in the narrative at all and Therazane who does very little in terms of plot. As for the rest, it’s dead, dying or having babies. I’m not stamping my tiny feet and demanding that women take over the World of Warcraft, far from it but having one or two female characters written in such a way that the women playing this game could take inspiration from them isn’t much to ask.
Erinys is obviously alliance - Magatha orchestrated the murder of MY faction leader! A compelling, sly villain - it was hard enough helping her in Thousand needles. However, unlike Erinys there are many women that I think are great role models for my daughter, with lots of parts to play and a lot to interact with! In fact, I admire more females than I do males!
Sylvanas Windrunner - yes she's sexy, but her story is so tragic and she's doing what she's doing for the sake of her race - raiding more Forsaken to preserve her race. Ok, fundamentally that's kinda FLAWED, but I really admire Sylvanas. Leader, twisted, tortured, noble. But that's just my opinion.
Garona Halforcen - Roshii's hero (and Roshii's a guy)! Garona the half-orc, half draenei was a master assassin, and was responsible for the assassination of her friend, King Llane (she was under the influence of Gul'dan's magic) . She had a son with Medivh, against whom she eventually turned. We see her in Twilight Highlands giving out quests enlisting our help to fight the Twilight Hammer and Cho'gall.
Tyrande Whisperwind - I'm not alliance, but you see so much of her and her involvement in the Mount Hyjal and the Well of Eternity. Strong, powerful, compassionate and partnered to the great druid Malfurion Stormrage (GAWD THAT BEARD FFS SHAVE IT OFF), I would have thought she would be a great role model. I don't like her voice, personally, but it might be just her dialogue in the Well of Eternity where she is yelling that she is out of arrows... I do like her dress though.
Aysa Cloudsinger - she's so ANTI Horde, but I admire her anyway. She is the leader of the Tushui pandaren. The way of the Tushui is one of a principled life and followers of this discipline believe there is a moral certainty to the world: one correct path of right and wrong, and she will defend what is right above all else. Aysa is rigid, determined and refined, and believes that success in any endeavour never justifies dishonourable deeds.
And on a side note, why can't men be role models for women? And women be role models for men?
I know that people don't like the oppression, abuse of women, and don't like seeing it in game. It is all too common that defining bad guys in WoW means they either enslave women, mistreat them, twist them into something evil - but maybe this game is trying to tell us that if you do that stuff, it's BAD. And people will come get you and deal with you and you will get your just dekgsserts. Some might say, why even have these scenarios of mistreated women at all? Maybe, because if we didn't include them, then people might say that we don't include enough women in the game, or that we are denying that abuse of women exist. Why can't we have more women heroes and leaders? It comes down to women themselves - women feel responsible for having to look after the family. They are constantly guilt tripped saying they shouldn't leave their families to go pursue power, promotion and success because children "always need their mother". So maybe WoW is just reflecting real life too - the women are at home looking after the children, and not out and about where the action is. Female gamers may not look at being a home mum as being something to look up to, but there are plenty of women out there who enjoy being the homemaker and vigorously defend their chosen courses.
So it doesn't surprise me that you don't see as many female leaders in game as males - but there are still many female leaders! In real life, people still talk about the lack of female CEOs and their paypackets lagging behind the men, but sometimes the ones who get the jobs are the ones who put in the long hours, hard yards, and let's face it, many women don't want to do that. They want to stay at home with their families - and there is NOTHING wrong with that. In my world, the medical world, you see just as many successful women as you do men. Perhaps it's because the medical world is something that is much less sexist than the corporate world.
The General Manager of one of the hospitals I work at is a woman. There are many heads of department who are women. And look at the game - I know a number of women who are guild leaders, raid leaders. There is no right way to put women in the game, without upsetting SOMEBODY.
To end this post, I am going to put this which I will probably be chastised over...