The Silent 17%

It’s 1947. Hollywood, California is thriving–WITH CRIME! Lots and lots of crime. You are Cole Phelps, recently returned home from WWII and new member of the LAPD. You and your fellow male officers solve traffic, homicide, vice, and arson cases. There are no women on the force because it is 1947 and they all went peacefully back to the kitchen after working in the factories while you were away fighting for your country.

Wait a moment.

According to Cara Ellison in her article on Past Magazine, the first woman police officer in the US, Alice Stebbins, was appointed in 1910 in the LAPD. According to Ellison, women take up only 17% of the roles we see on stage and screen. She cited a report from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California that said only 28% of last year’s speaking roles in movies we female. Ellison references an NPR interview with Geena Davis explaining that media vastly under represents females.  Davis quoted a study that found “if there’s 17 percent women, the men in the group think it’s 50-50. And if there’s 33 percent women, the men percieve that as there being more more in the room than men.”

I’ve played LA Noire, the main game which Ellison’s article analyzes. LA Noire was not devoid of female parts. Well–actually–looking back–there weren’t a lot of speaking female roles. There were some witnesses–who I was usually done talking to within a minute or two. I have racked my brain trying to think of all the main female characters. There was Elsa Lichtman–but she’s a morphine addict, sex symbol, mistress, and doesn’t have many lines outside of shaking her hips. I recalled other names like Jessica Hamilton, a 15 year old rape victim, who, in terms of the total dialogue for the case–doesn’t say much; Deirdre Moller, who is dead when you meet her so not much talking there either; Julia Randall, dead; Evelyn Summers, dead; Candy Edwards, eventually dead.

Emma Boyes, in her article on IGN, says that as a woman, playing LA Noire is like “walking into a bar and realizing you’re the sole female in the establishment” and now that I think back on the game I have to agree. Boyes also points out that the main female role is that of the often mutilated corpse and that “breathing women aren’t absent from the game completely, but they’re under represented to say the least.” She also notes that not a single female character has any power, nor are they truly essential to the story.

It’s odd. The game is centered in a time period which was essential for the end of gender inequality, as Boyes points out. Boyes points out that “it’s interesting that films and games now choosing to re-create that era also choose to marginalize women more than those made at that time.” (The emphasis is mine and not the authors)

In the same article, Boyes explains that “LA Noire’s touchstone LA Confidential… set in the 50s, the women are… relegated to the roles of prostitutes, victims of domestic violence and corpses” and cites the fact that the staff who work on such games are predominantly male as the reason that these games sexualize women.

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Sexualized Female Video Game Characters: Stereotyping and the Female Self-Concept

According to this study, done by Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz and Dana Mastro in 2009, female characters in video games are grossly underrepresented, hypersexualized, and are often victims or prizes for the player. Female characters in game are often portrayed with stereotypical gender roles such as “brazenly sexualized beings and objects of sexual desire.

The sexuality of the female characters is often showcased by their clothing, or lack there of. Behm-Morawitz ad Dana Mastro cite facts from Beasley and Standley, who found that “70% of female character in [M-rated games] and 46%… in [T-rated games] were depicted with abundant cleavage.” Behm-Morawitz and Mastro go on to list other percentages about female characters’ appearances:

  • 86% wearing clothing with low/revealing necklines
  • 48% dressed in outfits with no sleeves (contrasted by 22% of male characters represented with no sleeves)
  • only 14% of males characters wearing low/revealing necklines.
  • Female characters are twice as likely to be shown in revealing clothing

Behm-Morawitz and Mastro found that the majority of female characters represented are NPCs (or Non-Playable Characters). Although the playable female characters are often important, powerful, and heroic their sexuality is their defining feature.  Behm-Morawitz and Mastro hypothesized that played a sexualized female character would result in lower self-esteem and lower self-efficacy (the belief in oneself to perform and complete tasks). There was no support for the hypothesis about self esteem, but they did find that playing a sexualized video game character negatively effected self-efficacy in women (in comparison to not playing games at all).

Personally, I think the sexualization of female characters is empowering. Often the female character is looked upon as weak or too feminine. I enjoy playing female characters and often feel an increase in my self-esteem having accomplished what I do in game as a female player and female character. Most female character have weaker physical attributes but are often very intelligent. That’s not a bad thing at all regardless of how the character appears.

And what about the non-sexualized female characters? What about the female characters who are leaders? Warriors? Berserkers? Assassins?  I can guarantee you that I have put some very bulky, non-figure-flattering armor on my characters. And let us not forget the customized characters. How does that fit into the gender roles argument? I often make my characters in my image-which means short and stocky. I won’t be naive and say that the number of sexualized female characters is down-but I will go so far as to say that the number of female characters who are not-sexualized and are challenging the tradition of being a sexualized prize are increasing. Most games, role playing games (RPGs) in particular, have to option to play as a male or female lead character and the games I have played which feature a female lead have been survival horror games (excluding Super Princess Peach and Harvest Moon Cute), in which there is very little to find sexually appealing I assure you.

Women in Video Games p2: Alexandra Roivas

Last week, we talked about Princess Peach: the regularly kidnapped female PC. This week we’ll be talking about strong female PC: Alex Roivas, from Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. Alex’s story takes place in the year 2000. Alex is studying abstract mathematics and number theory at a nameless university in Washington. Her back story alone makes her a change from the overly pink princess with the high voice and well styled hair. Where Peach is soft, Alex is hard. Where Peach is a stereotype of femininity, Alex is a challenge to that.

Peach’s worst experience to date has been getting kidnapped… constantly… but Alex begins her journey by finding her grandfather’s body sprawled out on the library floor. It is typically a man who deals with issues of conflict. Despite this, Alex looks into her grandfather’s mysterious murder. During her exploration of his mansion, Alex finds the Tome of Eternal Darkness and relives the lives of several different characters. Despite these blackouts and nightmares, Alex bravely continues to delve into the overlying mystery in the mansion.

The usual portrayal of women, and the general feminine personality, is weakness and timidity. Then along comes Alex, in Nintendo’s first M rated game ever, to effectively do away with these stereotypes. This is not a woman who will be kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen (an outrageous extreme, but you get my point).

Alex goes through a lot during the game. This is not only because of the main story line in which she finds her dead grandfather, constantly passes out upon finding chapters of a skin and bone covered book, and discovers that she has to save the world but also because of the sanity meter, which, if low enough, can cause Alex to have additional hallucinations, like seeing her dead body in a tub of blood (and if you open the inventory you will find that you can’t interact with any of your items… seeing as the character you are playing is dead).

The stereotypical female character would have different reactions to these scenes. Although Alex does occasionally faint and/or vomit, she still carries on in pursuit of the truth.

Alex is among the first female playable characters in video games to demonstrate a strong woman and not a kidnappee. Alex, like Lara Croft and Samus Aran, contest what it means to be a female character in video games. Alex is among the first female characters to not be the the goal.

The Role in Women in Movies

The role of women have changed throughout the years when it comes to the movies. One thing that remained the same was the fact that the directors try to attract the male audience by placing “eye candy” in these movies. It’s a way of gaining more viewers.

This article I’ve read titled How the Role of Women Has Changed in Movies: Changing Role of Women in Cinema written by Tinashe Nyatanga. She stated that in the 50s men would flock to the movies screens all because of one sensation. She claimed that they merely focused on ladies such as Marilyn Monroe. She was known and attractive because of her appearance- her blonde hair and perfect lips. She expresses the fact that the first characteristic is that the leads roles are played by women. She talks about the women as leads in movies. She stated:

“If there are many women leads in a movie, there is one characteristic that separates the heroin from the rest and that is her fearless attitude. In “courage under Fire”, the main lead is played by Meg Ryan. The character she played was a helicopter pilot and was the captain of her squad.”

This is also a way to get more feminist viewers.  The lead women in movies can be influential to young women. After reading this article I looked up another article titled Women In Film Are Underrepresented, Hypersexualized Despite ‘Year of the Woman’ Claims written by Emma Gray. Here are some statistics that she mentioned in her article.

“According to a new report,women were significantly underrepresented in movie speaking roles last year. The study, released by the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, examined the 100 top-grossing fictional films from 2012. Out of 4,475 speaking characters, only 28.4 percent of them were women — less than in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.”

She mentions that we as women may be underrepresented because they are not only in the movies, but being the scenes as well. I feel like our role as women are down played and assumed that we cannot do what the guys do in their movies. Another reason why I love the movie Enough, which plays Jennifer Lopez. She dominates and show that women are more than just people who are scared and just listen to men. We are down played so much and also easily walked on because we are considered weak, which we are not.

Women in Film

How the Role changed article

Bad Girls Club

Ever watch a show and knows that it’s against just about everything you believe, but still have a hard time trying to look away? Well this is what I’ guilty for when it comes to The Bad Girls Club.

bgc

For those of you who don’t know what this show is or what is about here is a little information about it. The Bad Girls Club is an American reality show created by Jonathan Murray and airs on Oxygen. The show places a groups of seven girls in one house who need to remain in this house until their three months are through.  At the end of this trial they are rewarded with $10,000 each. Sounds easy right?! Wrong! All of these girls tend to have some kind of problem, such as psychological or behavioral.  Because of these issues and others like having too much pride. These girls feel they need to “prove” themselves by showing the other girls that they are considered the “baddest girl.” There mission to take this title is what is the core of all of the problems that occur in the house along with the fact that they have rules to follow. For example, not hurting each other physically. This is a reason why some places outside of America have banned from putting this show on air. They feel as though it will influence young teenager to what to do all these bad behaviors. Didn’t think this would be an issue right? Piece of cake placing seven girls in one mansion for three months. Well not when it comes to these girls.

I read an article written by Katie Elaine Boyer titles Stereotyping Women on “Bad Girls Club.” She starts off by talking bout this show being her guilty pleasure and although she is against what people would most likely think about all girls she still cannot stop watching it. She states that she feels like “Bad Girls Club” defies traditional female stereotypes because the stars are generally strong and independent young women who do whatever they want to do. She points out that while men are generally assumed to be the ones who handle their situations or problems by cursing, fighting, and screaming all the girls in the bad girls club handle their problems in that way.  This show does not show positive images of women or empower women at all. As much as I do like this show I must admit I would not want my daughter or younger sisters watching this and/or attempting to ANY of what they do. This may influence to think it is okay to do the things that take place in this show. For example, the girls go out clubbing from time to time and when they do they usually come home with a stranger they found at the club and have sex with them while intoxicated. Another point that Katie mentions is this:

“Each season the producers introduce the cast in the first episode by giving each girl a “title.” Examples of labels audiences are supposed to associate with the characters are: “The Mouth,” “The Party Diva,” “The Drama Queen,” “The Southern Spitfire,” “Chief Executive Bitch,” and “The Botox Barbie.” These titles encourage audiences to stereotype not only the “bad girls” but also girls in their lives. Again, the show’s creators are pushing the idea of self-fulfilling stereotypes.”

Things like this is what our society does not need around today. Things like this may led to dangerous actions, such as a possibly suicide because of titles or things of the sort. Although shows like this may be entertaining to some of us we must also take into consideration the effect it may have on some viewers.  I must admit I am guilty of this, but will also like to mention something about one of the recent seasons. Two of the girls built a bond/friendship and the other girls were jealous so decided to bully them. When the show ended they form this anti-bully program and made it a mission for their viewers to think about bullying and how it can effect people. This I thought was a great idea because us, the viewers witnessed them being bullying and how it was effected them, but they made it out to be something good and very influential to others. Should we still have shows like this on air?!

Katie Boyer’s Article

14 yr old Wanted to be Heard!

Read this! Pretty interesting 🙂

Lego friends

I found this interesting article on Twitter, tweeted by Amanda Yacovelli.

It’s about a 14 year old named Ann and her feelings on this particular Lego toy set they had released. This 14 yr old girl wrote a letter to Lego expressing her feelings about the discrimination and about the message she believes this particular toy gives off about women. She starts off by talking about how much she loves Lego and happy they keep coming out with varies kinds until she came across these set (picture above). She tells us exactly why she is disappointed by saying”

” This is why I was so disappointed  when I recently heard of Lego’s horrible, totally misguided decision to make market line of (very pink) Legos for girls, complete with a girl brushing her hair in the mirror, a bottle of perfume, and more. This is problematic for only two or three MILLION reasons, but let me pick the first, broadest, and most obvious: the idea that if you want to market a ling to girls, it cannot involve any \movement, adventure, or activity. ”

legoo I, honestly, was not aware that they have this set out. After reading this article I can see exactly why she would be upset. The other original Legos have much more room to move and are not constricted to strictly look in the mirror and forced to use this “perfume.” Ann continues to mention that the toy gives off this idea that girls can or should do nothing more than sit and prink.  She feels as though Lego states that boys are having more fun due to the fact that their characters can do so much more. This makes sense to me, I feel as though it is giving the message that we, as women, should be that stay at home mom or house wife from back in the day. What about the stay at home dads or  the girls who don’t like the color pink.

Women have came a long way and this toy makes it seem like we’ve gotten nowhere and are back to what people believed women should be doing with their lives. I’m sitting here trying to think about more toys that this plays a part in. Are there more out there that is giving off a wrong message? If a 14 yr old can point this out and go as far as write a letter to Lego, how do you think the women who worked hard to lost the name of a “stay at home mom/house wife feel?” Some may say that Lego is stereotypical for this toy , I would have to agree and say that I don’t want to be limited to my actions and women can do just as much as men can. It makes us looking boring and limited to certain things, which is not me! How do you feel about it?

click here to view the article itself!

Progression of Gender roles in Television Pt. 2: One Day at a Time

As mentioned in part one of my progression entry, gender roles have always played a large role in American sitcoms. Sitcoms began in the late 40’s, early 50’s, when the socially accepted gender roles were the mother caring for her home and family, and the father working and providing for his family. As time carried on, the progression of gender roles did as well. In the late 70’s and early 80’s there was a television sitcom called “One Day at a Time”. In this Sitcom, there was a different type of family unit. Unlike the Cleaver family in Leave it to Beaver, this family unit contained only three people. It was comprised of a single, divorced, working mother who was raising her two daughters. In terms of gender roles and how families were portrayed in the media, this was a huge jump. Not only was the family unit somewhat “broken” in comparison to the earlier sitcoms, but the mother’s gender role was entirely different. It became more socially acceptable as time carried on for a woman to not only be a mother and care for her home and family, but to be a working woman as well, and take over the “male” role of the family unit.

Ann Romano and two daughters from
television’s “One Day at a Time”

Progression of Gender Roles in Television Pt. 1: Leave it to Beaver

Gender roles have been present in television as long as sitcoms have been aired. Starting in the late 40’s and 50’s, it seemed that every series or sitcom incorporated gender roles. In 1957, a show called “Leave it to Beaver” aired its first episode. Within the first few minutes of this show, it was very clear that gender roles were going to be a big focus. The opening credits show an ideally pictured family with a mother, father, and two sons during their morning routine. The mother and father stand together to send their children off to school, the father in work attire and the mother with two lunches in hand. Throughout the numerous seasons of this show, there is a common theme or pattern among their gender roles. In the 50’s and 60’s, a woman’s role in the family was to simply stay home, clean, cook, and tend to her family. This is portrayed by “June Cleaver”, the mother, doing things such as cleaning and cooking all day, and having her husbands supper on the table and slippers ready when he got home. She was taking on the socially accepted role of “house wife”.

The father, “Ward Cleaver” would say goodbye to his loving wife and children, and go out to work for the day. His sole role in the family was to support them. Financially, he was the main support for the family, and only source of income. In the late 40’s to the 60’s, this was the socially accepted role of a man in the family. It was an unspoken understanding that what was seen as an “average” family was a happily married woman who was a homemaker and man who had a career to support the family, who together had about two children.

Women in Video Games pt1: Princess Peach

When I was younger (the very early 1990’s), I spent many hours rescuing princesses from different castles. I often found that they were no longer in that castle or were never in that castle to begin with, and very often became angry at them for not being able to take care of themselves (I was young, very lazy, and playing through 100 levels without knowing any of the shortcuts was daunting). Perhaps this is because they were off becoming independent princesses who didn’t need the help of a male protagonist. As I grew older, more female protagonists were introduced. I am happy to note that the portrayal of female characters has changed. Not only are there playable female characters, but non playable female characters are significantly less passive and kidnap-able.

Princess Peach being kidnapped by Bowser.

Let’s start at the beginning with the first female character I can remember: Princess Peach. In my opinion, the most notoriously kidnapped princess in the history of… well… ever. Peach is an iconic part of Nintendo’s Super Mario series and is kidnapped in almost every single game in which she appears. Why does Bowser constantly kidnap Peach? (more…)

Writing Techne

In Bolter’s article “Writing as Technology” he cites the differences in cultural literacy. Our backgrounds with reading and writing contributes to our understanding “… that language can have a visual as well as an aural dimension, that words can be recorded and shown to others who are not present…” People who read often or who come from highly literate cultures reveal their literacy level when they are reading or writing. Illiterate people “are denied access to language” as educated people speak in combination of colloquial and literary terms.

Bolter’s also comments on the technologies related to writing, such as the pen, paper, parchment, quill, printing press, and computer and our relationship as writers to technology. If we were to distance ourselves from the computer we would still be connected to technology through the manufacturing process of the pen. He states that technologies do not invade the mind, technologies “are natural in the sense that they are constituted by the interaction of physical materials and human practices.” No computer can function as a writing space without a writer; computers are not generative beings, they required outside input.