No matter how often many wish this topic would just die because of its misinformation, and its use as a platform for feminist theory, sexism (or as FRAs like Anita Sarkeesian would say, misogyny) in gaming is a topic that will never end. It extends to areas beyond actual games themselves to how women are treated in chats, gaming competitions/forums and what have you. Let me state categorically that sexism in all forms is wrong when it is ACTUALLY perpetrated. Let me also state that, on a personal level, I really don't care how any character of any race or gender is portrayed in a video game because video games aren't real, I don't use them as a guide in how to live my life and interact with people, and any person who does has some serious issues they need to deal with immediately.
It's now time to discuss the Disposable Man in video games. Women like Ms. Sarkeesian are quick to state that females in games are used as sex objects, background characters of no importance, or as a reward/objective for a typical male character in games. What ISN'T being discussed is how men are regarded as disposable and how the societal structure that places the value of women above men carries into gaming. Let's take the Damsel in Distress trope. This trope is viewed as sexist due to its implication that a woman couldn't get out of a troubling or dangerous situation without the help of a man. What isn't being discussed, besides the historical truth that a woman's life has always had more value placed upon it than a man's, is that the man is risking his own life to save this woman.
Men have been indoctrinated by centuries of societal expectations to put their bodies, their very lives, on the line to safeguard the lives of women. Women are seen as the necessary gender for the survival of the human race. When it comes to procreation, all women count but only one man is needed. Where it is seen that a woman is allegedly being portrayed as too weak to get out of the situation by herself, what isn't being seen is that history has stated that a man HAS to risk his life for that woman. A man's value is and always has been gauged by his actions. A woman's value is, by societal definitions, inherent and guaranteed because of what she represents to survival. Therefore, it isn't that a woman can't get herself out of the dangerous situations, it's that she isn't expected to because her life is more important than that.
We move on to Shooter games. In complete honesty, there are far more shooter games where the playable character is a male than there are shooter games with even the option to create a female character. Why is this? Simply because men have always been expected to be the one's to give up their lives in war situations. It has never been an expectation for a woman to risk her life in battle. In modern times, if a woman chooses to join any nation's armed forces (assuming she has that option), that's always her choice. Many groups argue that women aren't allowed in the actual combat situations where their lives are at risk, but that once again harkens back to the fact that a woman's life has, traditionally, always had more value than a man's life. Women can't be drafted into service against their will, men can, that's just the reality of the military. When men have been asked to go to war, it's always been to protect the country, the women, and the children. Men are asked to put women and children first and do whatever is necessary to safeguard their lives and their livelihood. This means that it's only natural for shooter games to star men and have them killing other men. It's not that women aren't capable of shooting a gun and being in the trenches with other men, it's that they aren't expected or asked to and no one wants to see them doing it.
You see it's easy to see women in games as being portrayed to be background or useless characters because women have never had to be placed in the kinds of situations men have had to face for the entirety of our existence. It has nothing to do with women's strength, intelligence, or ability. It has to do with the fact that women have never been expected to give up their lives for anyone.
If we look at the Fighting genre we can see some good examples of sexism against women. But once again it ignores a negative portrayal of men. Women can have the weightless cleavage, the skimpy outfits etc, but generally speaking a woman's appearance in a fighting game is for the most part possible in reality if any woman so chooses to look that way. What about the portrayal of men? When's the last time you saw any man that looked like, say, Hugo or Urien from Street Fighter 3? The portrayal of men as hulking masses of testosterone fuelled rage is prominent in several genres of games. In this instance it's wrong on both counts.
But what have we learned overall from this? What we've learned is that women aren't necessarily being objectified and exploited on a general basis. What's occurring is that when women are being portrayed in skimpy outfits designed to make them look "sexy" it's because of the idea that women are desirable. It isn't about them having their personal value being judged solely by their appearance, it's about the very real fact that men love the female form. Men being portrayed as masses of muscle is due to the idea that men HAVE to be big, strong, and emotionless so that they can protect everyone from everything. Men, whether straight or homosexual, don't place the same "value" on the male form as they do on the female form. Quite frankly, women simply look better than men and I doubt the female gamers of the world actually enjoy looking at someone like Kratos and going "damn, that's hot". Men aren't made to look like Olympians because that's what other men want to see, they're made that way because that's how men are supposed to view themselves.
For every supposed "trope" against women in games, there is an equal amount, yet hardly noticed or discussed, "trope" against men. Some examples of these are the aforementioned hulking mass of testosterone, the playboy type, the grizzled war veteran, cocky badass, etc.. All of them have basic categories that make a comment on the fact that men are either expected to do dangerous things, or prove their manhood on a near constant basis.
This blog wasn't intended to discredit women in any way, it was meant to show a side of the equation that is overshadowed thanks to feminist theory being used to judge the world. The expectations of men in the world have permeated gaming since the dawn of the medium and, through a different perspective, we could interpret gaming not as sexist towards women, but as a comment on how society views what men are called upon to do and how men who make games feel about it. Women are as capable as men to do or be anything they want, the difference is that they have never been asked to prove their value through the same kinds of actions men are brought up and expected to perform to prove their value to society.