Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ms Male Character

So, Anita Sarkeesian has put out a new video in her Tropes Vs Women series, this one starting a new topic: The Ms. Male Character.

What's fascinatingly disturbing is the kind of responses this stuff gets. Right off, there was a "featured" video response with a subtitle of "Even when it's equal it's sexist." Which makes me think he didn't watch, or didn't understand, the video, judging by his title. The Tropes video is specifically about taking male characters and gender flopping them (not to be confused with Rule 63) and having their defining characteristic being female version of a male character. A good example, I think, is Silver Age Batman. His first sidekick, male, is Robin. Robin gets a distinct name, costume, and backstory. While his origin shares qualities with Batman's, it's still Robin's own and isn't dependent on any established characters. Robin is original. Batgirl on the other hand, shares her name and costume with Batman and her origin is tied to an established male character, Commissioner Gordon.

Then there's this shit.

Wonder Woman (since I'm using DC), on the other hand, is her own, unique character, with her own back story, costume, and powers. She isn't just a gender flopped version of a male character. And let's face it, there aren't too many of those, still.
And here's the thing, when your published materials are more inclusive, that's going to help your sales. When you're driving away half the population, you're only hurting yourself.
That's not to say there's not a place for niche stuff, but it shouldn't be the dominant force in your medium.
A word of caution, however. Most of us can tell the difference between genuine sensitivity and pandering, and we don't care for the latter. My rule of thumb is, character first, gender second, and race/ethnicity third.

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