So I came across this particular website the other day for someone’s gaming stream website.
The tagline stood out to me – “Female is not a handicap.”
Now, first off, I will openly admit that I am not a feminist. Perhaps this has to do with me always coming across zealots in the news who claim that women are “always treated inferior to men.” I guess I sort of have this tainted view of feminism where it seems like women just want more and more things, and a defined plateau of where feminists want to reach isn’t quite clear to me at times. However, I do consider myself very open to the notion of equality for both genders whenever applicable.
Well, this tagline was a refreshing sight to see for a lot of reasons.
“Female is not a handicap” really spoke out to me because it was so radically different than what I come across often. You see, among the gaming communities out there, there’s a common stereotype that girl gamers are bad at video games. Furthermore, there is also a belief of sorts that many girl gamers “settle” at being only so good at a given game that they fall back on their gender as an excuse.
This tagline makes an honest jab at surpassing this stereotype. If someone, whether male or female, wants to be good at a video game, then they can put in the work to do so.
In regards to the gaming world, it is difficult for girl gamers to avoid their gender being honed in on. For one thing, girl gamers tend to stick out like sore thumbs because of some common patterns. These include:
1) Females are the minority gender for the gaming hobby, which is populated with mostly male gamers. Minorities in gaming tend to point out that they are a minority, so for a girl’s case, they will often have feminine-sounding usernames or have female-related buzz words like “girl” or “lady” in them.
2) Girl gamers tend to use female characters in video games. My main game right now is “League of Legends,” and most girl gamers in this game pick female characters like Lux or Janna.
3) Female gamers tend to point out that they are girls during a game. Even if you don’t ask them, girl gamers are often quick to mention that they are in fact female. And even if they don’t spell it out for you, their speech patterns usually hint their gender, anyway. For instance, girl gamers tend to be more polite during a game, whereas male gamers are quick to act all “tough” when their gaming ability is questioned.
OK, so figuring out who is a girl gamer may be the easy part, but what is the significance? I think females have an easy time being noticed as girl gamers, but garnering respect for their gaming ability is a different matter altogether.
For instance, a lot of girl gamers out there are used more as sex symbols as opposed to being portrayed as competent gamers. Even if these girl gamers are mediocre or worse at the games they play, this is not usually emphasized as a point of interest. The attention is directed toward their gender and physical appearance rather than their gaming competency.
As a guy, I have mixed feelings about this matter. I am a male first before being a gamer, so attractive females who play the games would be appealing to me. However, at the same time, I genuinely respect excellent gaming, regardless of the gender of who is behind the controller/keyboard.
I just think if I were a girl gamer, I would want people to value my killer skills in a game instead of them paying attention to me because I am affiliated with the ♀ symbol.
Going back to the “Female is not a handicap” tagline, I believe being proud of your personal traits (in this case your gender) is more than acceptable. I point out all the time that I am a male Asian gamer because Asian males have a lot of pride in their gaming. I think even in a male-dominated hobby of gaming, girls can have the same kind of pride and be just as proficient at gaming as their male counterparts.
Female empowerment should stem from the notion of representing girl gamers with a sense of honor. If a girl gamer wants to be treated as a gimmick such as a sex symbol, then so be it. But if a girl gamer wants to be taken seriously for their gaming talents, then they should be prepared to EARN this glory like everyone else.
Girl gamers just shouldn’t settle by playing the “having your cake and eating it too” card. What I mean is, girl gamers shouldn’t let their gender be an excuse for them doing poorly in a game when it’s convenient and then twist it around whenever a strike against feminism occurs. It should be one or the other – accept that your gender defines you as a gamer or be better than the stereotype. One shouldn’t have it both ways.
At the end of the day, regardless if you’re male, female, white, black, yellow, brown, red or whatever … not everyone has the skills or potential to be a professional gamer, but a great gamer can come from any gender or ethnicity.
So game on, girl gamers! Not just for girl power, but for the sake of gaming!