Building Realistic Female Characters: What Fire Emblem: Awakening Does Right (and What It Doesn’t)

Lucina Smash Bros RevealSo who saw that Smash Bros reveal on Monday? Can I get a “hell yes” for Lucina becoming the first female playable character from the Fire Emblem series to enter the melee/brawl/etcetera? To some, the choice may not have been that huge of a surprise, or even a big deal, but from a personal standpoint I think it’s a nice step towards having a more balanced roster in the popular Nintendo fighting series. And luckily, it coincides with something I’ve wanted to talk about. For the past couple of days, a certain post has been making multiple appearances on my Tumblr dash, and it brings up a fair point about lady characters in media.

i’ve been thinking about all those posts about “we need female heroes who do girly things”/”why is the female hero always such a tomboy” and then the response posts that are like “uhhh actually we don’t really have any really masculine female heroes either” so i was trying to figure it out—what do we have, exactly?

and really what we get is women who eschew “girly” things while still managing to look like society’s ideal woman. they would never touch eyeliner (they’re too busy with Important Things), but their eyeliner is immaculate. they have a huge, varied wardrobe, but wouldn’t be caught dead actually shopping for clothes. and it reminds me of the expectation that women must be effortlessly beautiful. don’t wear makeup or you’ll seem self-absorbed—but god forbid you look like you’re not wearing makeup. it’s interesting to me, that the impossibilities imposed on female characters are the same ones imposed on real women.
(via sapphicscience)

I would say that this is an issue especially present in video games if it wasn’t for the fact that it was so prevalent in all types of media. However, I believe it’s easier to pick it out in video games if only because when you’re trouncing around in deserts or swamps surrounded by haggard looking men, it’s ridiculously easy to pick out those perfect manicures and stylish outfits of the women characters when a cut scene zooms in on them—kinda seems out of place. Truthfully, Fire Emblem: Awakening doesn’t subvert this issue in any meaningful way. Some of the more physical lady fighters still look on point and none of the women seem as though they’ve stepped away from their boudoir for longer than an afternoon. Though, to be fair, the men in this series look equally as prettied up; also sporting stunningly beautiful armor and well-coiffed hair. But, I do think this game tackles the issue of femininity on the battlefield very well. Or, rather, women maintaining their femininity without sacrificing fighting prowess. In fact, there’s a friendship that can be built up (should the player partner the two up in-game) between two seemingly opposite female characters—Sumia and Sully—that portrays the idea that a woman doesn’t have to be masculine to tear zombies and evil do-ers apart.

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