01 July, 2012

On Women...

The topic of women in "geek culture" has been rattling around in my brain for a couple of weeks...whether gaming, cinema, comics, toys, or anything else.

I'll offer a few specific examples across a variety of elements from "geek culture".

- The "Wonder Woman" TV pilot episode which never made it past the producers, because it basically turned the Wonder Woman story into every other genre-formula adolescent drama story...and the sheer number of times we've heard about a Wonder Woman movie in the works, only to hear that it has suffered some kind of set back.  
- The outrage that many fans had about the reboot of the DC universe...with female characters reduced to sex objects (Catwoman) or having their costumes stripped back to skimpy strips of fabric (just about everyone else). This could be attributed to the general lack of female within the staff of DC, but that's probably just another symptom of the deeper problem.

- Recent outrage about a certain gamer and his negative writings/comments about females. 
- A general look at the mid year toy sales catalogues. All the boys get toys with cool movie tie ins, while the girls get...Barbie accessories, junior make-up kits and jewellery.


I guess it was this last bit that crystallised a lot of the thoughts in my mind.

I look at the LEGO pages in the catalogue. LEGO is traditionally a boys toy, and now it has construction sets with movie tie ins such as the Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and others. The recent foray for LEGO into a female market gave us "LEGO Friends", which is just another dollhouse. Its almost as if boys toys lure toward action and adventure, while girls toys reinforce notions of just looking pretty and playing social games.

I'm of the age where I could easily be a "geek dad", like several of the other game designers I know (such as Nathan Russell). While there are heaps of "boy's toys" I'd love to buy for a son, I don't think there are any "girl's toys" I'd be content to buy for a daughter.

Where are the action adventure toys for girls based on the movie Hunger Games?

If that was such a genre breaking movie that brought girls into the action rather than having them languish in a love triangle, where are the boardgames and toys focused on it.

We get dozens of toys tying into "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises", but for action movies with a female lead such as "Hunger Games" or "Prometheus" I haven't seen much of anything.

Hell, the very act of getting female centred action movies seems an incredibly uphill battle. Two of my favourite comic books were "Shi" and "Kabuki", both of which have long had rumours about movies in development, or complications preventing them from getting further. Robert Rodriguez claimed to be in development with a "Red Sonja" movie, but that too has gone into development hell. The idea of a Wonder Woman movie has become a joke in some circles.

Conspiracy theorists might say that there is a counter feminism tactic at work here. I think it's just corporate types playing conservative, unwilling to take risks and more happy to blame the world around them for falling sales rather than doing something positive to grow their industries.

I've been seeing a lot of the same things in roleplaying. With companies looking for good female focused games to expand their markets, without realising that simply good games probably have a better capacity to draw those same females into the hobby.

It looks like this idea has been resonating with a few other people lately (see Sending the MESSAGE).  

I've got a lot more thoughts about this, but now that I'm writing them down I think I'm starting to just waffle. I don't want to get my ideas misconstrued, I'd rather get them out more clearly.

Still, if anyone else has ideas about this subject, I'd love to hear them. Especially if you happen to be a female reading this blog post.

Am I on the mark? Or way off?
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