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Gender Stereotypes in Video Games

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In Georgia Warnke’s book Debating Sex and Gender, Gayle Rubin recognizes sex as the “raw material” of the bodies of female and male human beings, while gender pertains to the roles and functions those human beings have in society and the culture of which they are a part of. Rubin states that sexism is the general phenomenon in which females become “domesticated women”, or workhorses for men. Rubin wrote her influential essay The Traffic in Women in 1975, yet her definitions of sex, gender, and sexism are still applicable today.
The issues that Rubin addressed are demonstrated in particular in today’s media, which reinforces gender inequality and objectification, through the depiction of women as hyper-sexualized, weak, and unskilled. This negative depiction of women exists especially in the gaming community, in which many have criticized the negative portrayal of women as sexist and severely problematic. Video games like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption portray women in an almost exclusively violent and sexualized manner, which serves to reinforce the never-ending sexism and gender biases that society has upheld for centuries. Society as a whole can change the perception of gender and how women are perceived, but leaps towards progressive ideas need to be made first, starting with the video game industry as a whole. Throughout history, women’s roles have primarily been domestic – staying home and being responsible for the care of her husband and children. As Warnke points out (4), this is not a result of sex but, rather of gender. Society, culture, and especially economics have been the primary driver behind the reinforcement of gender stereotypes particularly for women. Joan Wallach Scot’s analysis of French garment jobs during the 1840’s serves as an example of the historical gender identities that were constructed for women. During the 19th century,…...

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