shatteredjunk: kulshedra: upsettingshorts: …
<SNIP THERE IS A HUGE DISCUSSION HERE GO CHECK OUT THE LINK>
Motherfucker do you read, I did not make the “male examples” post.
I responded to her response to that post where it says that Ezio is a complex character not defined by masculinity by pointing out that evaluating male characters on their masculinity and female characters on their femininity contributes to an existing double-standard and skews our evaluation of the characters, because we live in a culture that devalues femininity and values masculinity; Therefore, characters coded as masculine tend to be subject to less scrutiny and tend to have more movement within the concept of masculinity, relative to characters coded as feminine, who are more likely to wind up pigeonholed as “the girl”.
I really do not understand why this is a difficult concept. If you get that there’s a double standard between the way we look at things that are feminine and the way we look at things that are masculine, it should be easy enough to get your head around.
You know, I wonder what would happen if we made a game with a cast of mostly varied females with many different traits, and one male. Would he be considered “the boy” archetype in the same way that the token female character is often ‘Smurfette’d’ into her role?
Does such a “the boy” archetype exist as it does for “the girl” in a mostly male ensemble cast?
No, he wouldn’t. See also:
- My Little Pony
- Sailor Moon
I don’t think it’s an accident either. “The boy” doesn’t really exist as a construct in the same way that “the girl” does, and femininity isn’t bound up in the same sort of ideas about being everything that the boy isn’t (and shouldn’t be).
And Jesus Christ, thank God somebody understood what I was getting at.
Sailor Moon’s Tuxedo mask is very good example. He is stereotypical male as male gets, he wears massively gendered clothing and has strong Casanova mannerisms and is always presented as a love interest for the female protagonist, never just there.
There are a few other examples but just very very few (Bow from She-Ra would come to my mind, but I’m an 80s kids, so). I totally share your observation, that a male equivalent of a smurfette character does not get the same scrutiny.
Though I don’t share your conclusions to why that is. There is no double standard. It’s all about numbers. Tuxedo Mask is sooooo rare that no-one bothered to establish a label for charcters like him. And he is sooooooo rare that he is not symptomatic for a larger problem like Smurfettes are.
A Tuxedo Mask does not reduce men to masculinity but a Smurfette does reduce women to femininity. Because Tuxedo Mask is in a minority and is not an example of a dominant perspective on male characters. Smurfette on the other hand represents a majority of female characters. If we would have a diverse array of female charcters as we have male ones Smurfettes would not get the scrutiny they now have.
We apply the same standards to male and female representations. We are just putting how often they occur and how much alternatives are out there into consideration as well and that is where the female stereotyping literally is more problematic and deserving of more scrutiny.
That’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m saying is this:
We don’t criticize male characters for their masculinity. However, we do criticize female characters for their femininity. Masculinity is not an evaluation standard for male characters in the same way that femininity is for female characters.
Take a look at Bioshock Infinite. Elizabeth and Booker. Both well-written characters, both very, very gendered characters.
Elizabeth gets put on the stand and weighed against her archetypical femininity. Booker doesn’t.
That’s a repeating pattern. Masculinity is invisible, femininity is abnormal. It’s part of how privilege works. It’s part of how this concept of character design works. The male characters can all exist as variations within the concept of masculinity; the female character gets marked as female because that, the designer supposes, is significantly different enough. Femaleness sticks out. And we, as an audience, notice it too - it’s why we can make statements like “Ezio isn’t defined by his masculinity” without a hint of irony, but hold endless, endless discussions about whether or not Elizabeth was sufficiently able to compensate for her feminine character design and location in the narrative as a girl in a tower.
Going back to Tuxedo Mask - he’s not Man as Archetype because there is no Man as Archetype. He’s a love interest, yes - not in itself a male trait - and very arguably a casanova - certainly not exclusive to him - but I think you’d be hard-pressed to argue that he is designed to be Male in the way that the Siren is designed to be Female. He doesn’t exist as something to define femininity against. He is just a boy in a girl’s story, because boys can be people but girls must be girls - or, must not be girls, in order to be people, which is the point I’m making about the undue level of scrutiny.
I don’t think you can argue in good faith that there isn’t a double standard in the way female and male characters are treated and evaluated, or in the level of scrutiny they’re held up. Being as well-written as anyone else in the cast is not adequate for a woman who is also feminine - see the Elizabeth/Booker example. Likewise, being shallowly masculine is not as problematic as being shallowly feminine. And mingled in with the legitimate media scrutiny is a lot of really insidious cultural messaging about how women are only good inasmuch as they’re able to adopt masculine traits.
I’m not saying that’s what’s going on here - but I am saying that it’s perpetuating the invisibility of masculinity to argue that many male video game characters aren’t very defined by their masculinity, and to then nuance that into how it’s different from female characters being defined by their femininity.
Alright, yeah, I think I see where you are getting at.
Let’s talk Booker, the Siren and Ezio for a second.
I see that it’s not correct to draw a distinction between Ezio and the Siren in regards to how gendered they are represented, even though it is done a lot. The Siren gets scrutinized for the gender portrayal more even though she is as much a mix of gender as it is Ezio. Same thing, different scrutiny, Ezio’s masculinity – because it is a default – becomes a non-issue… invisible. Okay.
Booker on the other hand was scrutinized a lot for the blatant masculinity. Do you remember the groaning about the Bioshock Infinite cover reveal? How it made Bioshock “just another bro-shooter?” The concept of bro-something is already a label we put on tropes that are stereotypically masculine.
I agree that male privilege makes us miss on how gendered male characters are as well (especially to establish characters with agency, because that needs masculinity for many people apparently) and makes us focus on the odd characters… the female ones. Most of the time.
Okay. I will keep an eye out how masculine characters are displayed and how that is used to distinguish them from less desirable female traits (according to their designer’s or publisher’s standards). Nice angle on the issue.
Pheww, the argument obviously needed a lot of cleaning up for me to be able to get there, but I’m glad you took the time to do it for me. Thanks. (Assuming I got you right this time)