Girl in the Machine
Friday, January 11, 2008
Inevitable Femininity

I've racked up a lot of hours on Guitar Hero III. Sure, the boss battles are kind of gimmicky and the difficulty curve is nearly vertical, but the walls of chez Plasma have been alive with the sounds of the Rolling Stones and Dragonforce nonetheless. And while I do love Judy Nails in all her pierced and tattooed glory, my consistent partner in rock has been the underappreciated Casey Lynch. Casey has flown under the radar since she was introduced in Guitar Hero II, and the recent news concerning Judy has only buried her further into obscurity. Knowing nothing about her, I decided to check out her profile in GH II:

Casey Lynch - A veteran of the tour circuit, Casey's dirty, low-end growl and ultra-heavy riffs have influenced budding shredders from Maine to Alaska, she's tough, she's brash, and she'll break your heart faster than an E string.

Okay, I can get behind that; girl sounds really badass. In GH II, Casey is heralded for her down-and-dirty, heavy-metal style. Sure, she's basically wearing a bra, but nothing about it suggests objectivism (like Judy's torn-in-the-right-places outfit in III); in fact, it's more comparable to a male punk rocker with his shirt off.

And then Activision came along. While playing GH III, I read from Casey's profile that she decided to take a more feminine approach to her look. While there is nothing inherently wrong with choosing to be more feminine, it's the way in which her profile worded this change: she is described as "finally discovering her feminine side."

Let that sink in. "Finally." She "finally" discovered her feminine side. It's only one word, but it speaks volumes. By including this word, Activision is suggesting to us that because Casey is a woman, it was only a matter of time before she would shed her "dirty," "growly" ways and take on a more feminine persona.

Of course, this problem isn't restricted to Guitar Hero; we as a society are still struggling with it. Words such as "feminine" imply that the traits this word labels are not only inherent in women but also those traits that one must possess in order to be acceptable as a woman. To not possess these traits, or to act "masculine," suggests that a woman is not being herself, but trying to be a man. Because femininity is inherent in women, it is an inevitability, and any woman who doesn't conform to it is lying to themselves about who they are.

I've written about feminine female characters in video games before. I would like to clarify that I am in no way condemning femininity itself; what I do have a problem with is how femininity is treated as the only proper way for female characters to be, that to be "feminine" is to be "woman-like." I am frustrated over the feminization of Casey Lynch not only because of her unique character in GH II but also because every other woman in the game has received a feminine makeover as well. Activision has erased the individuality among their female characters, reducing them to an indistinguishable blur of ripped jeans, breasts, and leather.

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 Posted by PlasmaRit
 2:09 PM + Link to this post

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