Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian unveiled the latest episode of her “Tropes vs Women in Video Games” mini-series on Thursday.
The series explores how video games portray and utilize women. Sarkeesian started off the new episode by attempting to dispel the misperception that she is trying to make people feel bad about enjoying video games. It is possible to critically examine the role of women in video games while still finding them enjoyable, she said.
While Sarkeesian’s previous episodes examined the “Damsel in Distress” trope, her latest episode takes a look at the trope’s reversal, the “Dude in Distress.”
One video game based off the “Dude in Distress” concept was Nintendo’s Super Princess Peach from 2006. Peach was the active figure in the game rather than the helpless victim of men’s machinations. However, Sarkeesian noted the game still employed sexist stereotypes. Peach had four special powers based on her frantic female emotions.
“Essentially Nintendo has turned a PMS joke into a core gameplay mechanic,” she remarked.
Though the “Dude in Distress” trope might seem like nothing but a reversal of the “Damsel in Distress” trope, Sarkeesian argued there were fundamental differences. The “Damsel in Distress” trope perpetuated the stereotype of women as weak and defenseless while the “Dude in Distress” trope was more of an ironic rife. The former was based on preexisting stereotypes, while the latter was not.
Sarkeesian also examined video games that attempted to subvert the traditional “Damsel in Distress” trope. The game Braid, for example, begins with the typical man attempting to rescue a princess scenario. As the plot unfolds, however, the main character is revealed to be the person that the princess is trying to escape from.
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below: