Girl Power

Girl Power
Women Monsters and Monstrous Women

Bonnie Ruberg | 1 Nov 2005 07:01
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Women Gamers as Monsters: Embracing the Other
Monsters, by definition, are altered human beings. Zombies, for example, fit this mold nicely, as do ghosts and vampires. Women monsters, as seen above, have been altered not just physically, but also ideologically. They've changed themselves by stepping outside the accepted image of complacent womanhood. Yet they possess the remnants of humanity. We, in turn, see ourselves in the monsters. We begin to understand our own monstrousness, our own departure from the "human."

Women gamers are in this way also monsters. We - indeed, all intelligent, independent females - break the accepted standards of womanhood. We have defamed our traditional femininity by dabbling in a supposedly male world, that of video games. As many men would readily agree, we have made ourselves a monstrosity. In hopes of fighting this image, women have struggled for years to convince the gaming industry of our true humanity; they have sought out power and respect.

Women, of course, have a right to want strong female characters in the games they play. But maybe they've been looking in the wrong places. What better role model than the monster, whose ability to incite fear is so powerful it reaches out from the game? In the parallel worlds of survival horror and the gaming industry, both dotted with damsels and heroines, perhaps it's time to turn and embrace ourselves, the monsters.

Bonnie Ruberg is a video game journalist specializing in gender and sexuality in games and gaming communities. She also runs a blog, Heroine Sheik, dedicated to such issues. Most recently, her work has appeared at The A.V. Club, Gamasutra, and Slashdot Games.

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