Youth Subcultures Essay Example

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Portrayal of Women in Video Game Culture

It is unfortunate that video games – a product of modern technology — are setting back through the unconscious promotion of gender stereotyping what women’s liberation movements have worked so hard to achieve: gender equality. Gender stereotyping is defined as “preconceived ideas whereby males and females are arbitrarily assigned characteristics and roles determined and limited by their sex” (Bohan 2015). In the past, women were precluded from holding public office or voting in elections or even holding jobs because our highly patriarchal society classified them as inferior sex. Hence, they were relegated to homemaking and bearing and raising children. Betty Friedan, one of the founders of second wave feminism, stated that the preconceived notions that society has imposed upon women is not only oppressive, but also dehumanizing (Boucher 2003). Despite the advances made by women in this area, it would seem that popular media, such as video games, continue to depict women as the inferior sex.

Indeed several studies have confirmed the sexist nature of the video game culture. For example, a study that delved into the contents of various video games revealed that 83% of video game male characters are portrayed as aggressive as opposed to only 62% for female characters. Whilst male characters are portrayed as such, majority of female characters are sexually objectified through dresses that scantily cover their bodies even if they are portrayed as aggressive at the same time. This is unfortunate considering that gaming is the top online activity of kids according to the Magazine Publishers of America (Dill and Thill 2007). The significance of the exposure of persons to gender stereotyping at an early age is that young people are more impressionable. In addition, constant exposure to the same media images can lead them eventually to think that the supposedly media fantasy images represent reality.


Bohan, M 2014, Combating gender stereotypes in and through education, Report of the 2nd Conference of the Council of Europe National Focal Points on Gender Equality,

Boucher, J 2003, Betty Friedan and the radical past of liberal feminism, New Politics, vol. 9, no. 3

Dill, K and Thill, K 2007, Video game characters and the socialization of gender roles: Young people’s perceptions mirror sexist media depictions, Sex Roles, vol. 57, pp. 851-864.