One thing I’ve noticed throughout my life is that when a woman is portrayed in a video game, movie, or TV show as a ass kicking, name taking, no nonsense GRRL POWER heroine… is the way she is attired.
My absolute hero when I was a little girl was XENA:™ WARRIOR PRINCESS®®®
She was everything I wanted to be when I grew up. A powerful warrior woman who constantly subdued bad guys and gods. Even though I didn’t yet have an inkling about my sexaulity at this time, I was hard core girl crushing all over Xena. I’d imagine I was her side kick instead of Gabrielle. I remember that I never once had an issue with Xena’s costume. Perhaps I assumed the lack thereof allowed her for better freedom during fights. Or perhaps I was just fawning over her, like most others (boys and girls) of my age.
In any case, I would watch her show with religious like zeal. I’d burst into the living room, and if anyone so much as dared have the screen on to something else I’d uncermoniously whine my little butt off until she graced the screen.
I had forgotten all about her until roughly two years ago. I was about to go on deployment, and I decided to download some shows to get me through the next 7 months. On my list was Heroes, The X-Files, and I decided to revist Xena as well.
On this viewing as an adult, I had more than one eyebrow raised throughout most of my viewings. First off, when I was kid I did not catch any of the undertones between Gabrielle and Xena. This was of course a pleasant and giddy surprise as I watched a scene where Jockster (the mighty) looks at Gabrielle’s neck and says “Is that a hickey?” and in the brief moment before scene change Xena looks sharply away with a guilty look, and Gabrielle slaps a hand over her neck. My world. was. blown.
Besides being able to get all giddy over the burgoining love between the characters, I did begin to notice how often the female characters of the series were sexualized.
It seems to me a lot of strong characters like this always have flawed armor. I mean really, what kind of armor only covers your breasts and leaves everything else open to attack? Why is Gabrielle running around everywhere with her midriff exposed, which to me just paints of a target of “STRIKE HERE”.
TV isn’t the only place this happens. I also used to (sorta am still) be a big time gamer. Ever since I was kid I had to deal with a lot of overt sexism thrown in my face with female characters in video games. They all suffer from the myarmordoesn’tcoverallmyvitalspots-itis. In the game “Skyrim” when a armor is put on a female character it tends to mold over their boobs and reveal more skin than the male versions. So much so that one modder even decided to fix that with a mod that puts male armor over the females, to make them less “boobish”
With all this happening in just our media, it doesn’t come to a suprise to me that actual female soldiers, real live ones mind you, have only just recently had body armor fitted for them.
From the article:
“Female soldiers from Fort Campbell deploying to Afghanistan will field the first Army body armor that is shorter and better tailored specifically to fit women’s physiques. ”
“The 101st Airborne Division first suggested the idea of a better fitting vest for women in 2009 after female soldiers said that they often had trouble bending over, getting in and out of tight spaces like military vehicles, or positioning their rifles against their shoulders, said Maj. Joel Dillon, the Army’s assistant product manager for the vests.
Dillon said the long plates inside the vests would rub against their hips and cut into their thighs when they sit down.”
“The need for better fitting armor became clear as women in the Army have been fighting on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan for years, Dillon said. He noted that women now make up 14 percent of the Army and are closer to combat than they have been previously.”
What on earth has taken so long? I guess we can be grateful that in this case the military is not taking a page from TV shows and video games, and actually making an armor to better suit our female Soldiers!