From Gender Coverflips to Twitter, the Sexism Never Ends

From Gender Coverflips to Twitter, the Sexism Never Ends

So there is a ton of sexism going on lately in both the gaming and publishing industries. And of course there are plenty of people writing about it.

I first off want to state that I know sexism against men exists, but sexism against men IN THE FIELD OF INDUSTRIES exists not because men are men but because men are supposedly acting feminine or doing feminine things. It happens in the field of nursing because it is generally a female-dominated field and so is automatically considered a feminine job. So when a man is a nurse, he is doing “feminine” things and is therefore considered weak. Granted, some women reinforce this sexism, but they shouldn’t. But when women join a male-dominated field, they are picked on not because they are acting “masculine”, but because they are female and are therefore too weak to be in the field they are in. Male ballet dancers are picked on too because they’re considered “feminine” for doing something in a female-dominated field, which is a shame because male ballet dancers are just as incredible as their female counterparts, and we need more men in ballet. And their muscles! Have you seen the muscles on a male ballet dancer? They can take on football players, contrary to popular belief, especially because they know how to articulate all those muscles they have.

(Now I realize ascribing labels to them makes them seem less than, but I ascribed labels to specifically point out a certain sex. If I had just said ballet dancer, you probably would have thought of a female, wouldn’t you have?)

I honestly could do an entire post about sexism against men (because it is real, it exists, and it is sickening the way our society treats sexism against men), but this post isn’t about them. The Good Men Project does an excellent job about giving men voices anyway. But men don’t struggle in the gaming and publishing industries the way women do.

With gender coverflips, outcries from women in the field of science fiction, and some pretty nasty Tweets from men (above), it’s clear there is a problem. I was stunned as I was going through the comments to some of the articles linked here, along with more articles that I haven’t linked, just how ignorant people can be. One thing that rankles my nerves more than anything is how women are constantly the butt of a sexist joke: get back to the kitchen, cook and clean for me, get me a sandwich! What makes people think that in the 21st century, jokes like those are funny anymore? They’re so overused anyway that they’ve lost their appeal as potential jokes.

Now on to the gaming industry. The problem with the gaming industry is there are not enough female protagonists, and if there is a female protagonist, she is so oversexed that the outfit she wears isn’t even functional. The newest Metal Gear Solid game comes to mind, where there is a sniper in the desert, and she is so scantily clad that it’s outrageous. Someone on Tumblr tried to justify her clothing by saying she’s in the desert. No! Just no! You wouldn’t wear hardly any clothing in the desert. You would cover up so you don’t burn. Then there is Laura Croft. When I was a child, I swore her breasts grew larger every game, but that was probably just graphical improvement. There is nothing wrong with a lady having large breasts because large-breasted women exist, but large breasts present a problem of their own, and males wouldn’t really understand this because they don’t have breasts–so male game designers have no clue just how problematic large breasts would be for an adventurous woman. Then there is severe sexism in the online gaming community. Women are constantly called names and, of course, are told to go back to the kitchen. The sexism in the online gaming community especially has me flabbergasted. What makes men–no, boys–think this is okay? Isn’t respect taught? Or is sexism more subconscious?

Then there is the publishing industry. The sexism isn’t just rabid among the sci-fic community, but rabid in general because female writers are not getting the acclaim their male counterparts are because the male voice is still considered universal while the female voice is still considered “other”. The general thought is that women aren’t writing any good books, that the female protagonists are weak and pathetic and whiny and clingy. People, Twilight doesn’t define all of what women write. Just as books showing outrageously violent men doesn’t define all of what men write (John Green springs to mind). People who claim there are so many weak females probably haven’t been going to bookstores lately. Since I heavily read YA, I have seen tons of books with female protagonists able to stand on their own, who don’t lose who they are in the face of adversity.

So there is a lot going on in both of these industries that needs to be changed, both in the way people view women and how women are treated.

Writing Inspiration From Video Games

Writing Inspiration From Video Games

Tales of the Abyss
Tales of the Abyss (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My favorite game of all time is Tales of the Abyss by Namco Bandai. Tales games tend to be very character oriented. Each character has his/her own story arc and even quests pertaining to more story information–and these are quests you often want to do because the characters are already so compelling that you continuously want to know more about them. What I love most about Tales of the Abyss is that not only is there focus on the protagonists but even the antagonists have their own stories that make you really feel for them. This is common in Tales games, but is especially emphasized in Tales of the Abyss.

Tales games are the reason I began focusing on developing background stories for my antagonists. Tales of the Abyss, in fact, inspired me to do two short stories of two antagonists in When Stars Die. I hope to include those with the novel, if possible. The antagonists in the sequel have their own arcs as well, and they won’t be separate short stories but actually included within the novel. In books that deal heavily in gray areas, especially if it’s fantasy or paranormal or a similar genre, I appreciate it when my antagonists are as developed as my protagonists because it certainly solidifies that gray area, that idea that there is no real evil in this book, that it’s all subjective.

Video games for me have been a legitimate source of inspiration for my stories, especially  story-centric video games. The first Baten Kaitos (also by Namco Bandai) inspired a character concept in When Stars Die’s sequel. Zelda: Twilight Princess inspired a character in the sequel to WSD–unfortunately said character no longer exists, but he was compelling in his own right. Chrono Cross inspired an old novel of mine in the past, and I one day want to re-visit the concept when I have the time.

Video games have also helped to improve my storytelling skills. Video games once used to be about gameplay, but now gamers are demanding more and looking for stories as well. I think this is a great thing because it’s one more medium we writers can use to hone our skills. I analyze the stories in the video games I play. I analyze how the plot develops, how characters develop, how each part of the story is told. I am currently analyzing Ni No Kuni, and I love the concept so far. Shadar, an evil wizard, I presume, has the ability to break people’s hearts, and by doing so, these people often become depressed. So it’s up to little Oliver to restore people’s hearts by drawing from the essences of others who have plenty of heart to give. I find that concept fascinating because I can see it working in a novel, especially if Diana Wynne Jones were alive today to write such a novel. Granted, the video game elements would obviously have to be removed, but the story is very effective in its own right. I can see why the game is so popular.

If you’re a writer and a gamer, I say use that to your advantage. Really analyze the stories of the games you play. Allow yourself to draw inspiration from the games you play. And if you’re not a gamer, you should give gaming a shot. Not only is it fun, but it’s another story that you can collect in your life. Tales of the Abyss was a game I never wanted to end. The story for me was unbelievable.