What Were Chun-li’s Boots Made For: Walking, Ass-Kicking, or Sex?
I’m the last person to champion feminism in video games…I like my finely-rendered ladies like I like my coffee: tall and with amazing breast physics. So, I’m not quite sure how much weight my opinion carries in this debate. But, there is something I’ve got to get off my un-pixelated chest…
I saw this making the rounds on Tumblr this morning:
"You know, girl gamers complain about how women in video games are always wearing skimpy clothing and border on being nude But I have never heard a single complaint about this dude.Dude wears a pair of boots, a man, thong and wristbands yo."
The responses appear to be fairly mixed between two clear opinions: those in favour and those opposed. And, those opposed seem to have a singular bent to their opposition: that video game women were not created “with women in mind” the way male characters are, but rather they were created as “sexual objects for men.”
While I’m by no means the gold-standard for female video game characters, at 5’8” I am WAY taller than the average, at a size 0 I’m significantly skinnier than the average (thanks to a crazy metabolism…not a lack of delicious vegan sandwiches), and my breast size is slightly larger than average at 34 D. What does that all mean? Well, to stay in the realm of Street Fighter and pick one of the most popular and recognizable female characters of all-time, I’m fairly close to the proportions of Chun-Li.
And, I think it’s worth nothing I wasn’t created “as a sexual object for men.” I was created for the express purpose of making a childless Hispanic woman REALLY happy. (Sidenote: I’m kicking-ass at that life purpose…just like Chun-li!)
More importantly, almost all of the characters in Street Fighter (and many other video games) were designed with the idea and supportive backstory that these people are masters of marital arts—fit fighters at the top of their respective fields. (I mean, that’s how they got into the tournament in the first place. One does not simply walk into Mordor…or Shadaloo.) So, considering they must train and work out a lot, you’d expect them to look like those people in the 2 A.M. Bow-Flex commercials. It makes sense for them to look like lean mean fighting machines with a low BMI.
Completely incidentally, because our culture values that body type as sexually appealing, these characters became sex symbols for many a hentai artist’s pen. I can’t imagine that when Chun-li was created as a character anyone thought this sprite was developed with the singular purpose of sex:
In fact, Chun-li was the first playable female character to appear in a 1 on 1 fighter…she was a trailblazer. As a young female gamer I can tell you how AWESOME it was to have a female option when I sat down to play. And, to kick Bison boy-ass with that character! It didn’t particularly matter what she looked like or what she wore. All that mattered was she was a girl…like me. And, really that’s all that should matter now.
Why does this particular issue make me so angry?
Because I’ve spent my whole life reading magazines filled with ads and articles catering to “real women” featuring issues that purport to offer “the perfect jeans for every size” that never take into consideration really tall, but stupidly skinny women. Whenever I complained about this to friends they replied, “magazines don’t include you ‘cause you don’t need it. You never HAVE a problem finding jeans! Someone with your build looks good in everything!” But, it’s simply not true. If something is long enough for my legs it’s way too wide for my waist. Why? Because people seem to believe women with those measurements don’t exist.
What I’m trying to say is this: women come in all shapes and sizes. Those female video characters WERE created with women in mind…because they look like women! There’s no reason why a strong female video game character can’t also look sexy while she kicks ass. Sex is empowering. Arguing that women are being “negatively sexualized” undermines the great power ALL women have to be sexy. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything backwards in high heels right? And, it was hot!
Also, just so you know, video games are far more feministic than you think…the female characters wear less armor than men but take the same amount of damage because they’re inherently stronger. They just don’t need it. :)
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