So the latest sexism controversy comes by way of the newly revealed model for Zero Suit Samus in the new Smash Bros. Zero Suit Samus, always somewhat a sexualized character what with her skin tight bodysuit and all, is now sporting a slightly larger pair of boobs, a slightly slimmer waist, and most importantly, stiletto rocket heels. This has rubbed some people the wrong way, as it takes an icon that stands as one of the strongest female protagonists in the gaming world, and highlights her sexual aspects.
Sexism, by definition, is “unfair treatment of people because of their sex; especially unfair treatment of women.” Thank you Merriam Webster. He sexism outrage in the gaming world almost always boils down to unfair or uneven portrayal of women in games. There seem to be all sorts of male game characters, from big to small, thin to fat, rugged and manly to weedy and geeky, but female game characters almost always end up sexualized. Now that’s not to say that sexy game characters are bad, but if we are talking about equal and fair representation here, there should probably be more non-sexualized females in gaming than there are, or at least more sexualized males.
Traditionally, Smash Bros. has actually handled this quite well, at least as opposed to other fighting games. You aren’t going to see Mai Shiranui’s or Ivy’s gravity defying breasts in Smash. Not to mention, for any female that was questionably sexual, like Zero Suit Samus, there were certainly males that were questionably sexual. Heck, Brawl had both Captain Falcons flamboyant fabulousness and Snakes absurdly tight butt cheeks... METAL GEAR!!!
But now the game gets turned over to Bandai Namco, infamous for their big breasted Soul Calibur characters, and the scales seem like they are beginning to be tipped. So Zero Suit Samus got a pair of heels and altered dimensions in an attempt at fanbait. She was sexualized one step further. Alright, I’ll give that to you. Fanbait exists and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So if Zero Suit Samus is fanbait for guys, where is the fanbait for girls? Why isn’t Captain Falcon wearing a thong or sporting a chest twice the size of his last model? Why doesn’t Mario have an absurd crotch buldge holding in his 10 inch slice of manhood? Why doesn’t Yoshi look like a Fist of the North Star character.
That, my friends, is why the design is sexist. It’s designed specifically to appeal to males, yet there is nothing similar made to appeal to females. That is unfair and unbalanced treatment between sexes, plain and simple.
Now a lot of people try to defend this. Many say, “I don’t really care either way if she has rocket heels or not, she looks awesome.” Well, congratulations to you, sir. If that is true, then you are not sexist, and no one was calling you sexist in the first place, but good on you. However, your personal attitudes toward the character does not change the fact that her character design, along with the guys at Bandai Namco and Nintendo that created it, are sexist.
Many people say, “but they are rocket heels! They are different from normal heels.” Yes, but they still LOOK like normal heels. Heels are a sexual object due to their appearance, and so rocket or no, they still are sexual.
Many say, “She needs heels to store the rockets in her shoes.” To that I say… are you crazy? There are any number of ways she could have gotten rocket propulsion. Rocket boots? Rockets strapped to her legs? A jet pack? A gene mod that lets her hover because she is part Metroid now after the events of Metroid Fusion or whatever? Heck, this is a world where Little Mac is put in the ring with the Wii Fit trainer. It’s not particularly hard to imagine some way to give Zero Suit Samus rocket kicks without strapping her into stiletto heels.
The thing is, Zero Suit Samus’s character update is, mostly pointless. She didn’t need to be sexualized even more, and for now she is the only character on the roster that has received a sexualizing update. There is no real defense for these actions. Note, that doesn’t mean that this character update will make the next Smash Bros a bad game, or Zero Suit Samus a bad character (Nintendo’s horrible ability to balance fighting games will do that, ZING!) Heck, I’m not even saying that you shouldn’t like Zero Suit Samus’s character. If I had to dislike everything that had a sexist element in it, I’d probably end up ditching the majority of all TV shows, books, movies, and video games. I, personally, am going to pick up the new Smash and try out the new Zero Suit Samus, sexism or no.
I'm also not saying that this is the worst or most sexist thing video games have ever done (DOA Extreme Beach Volleyball I'm looking at you). In the grand scheme of sexism in video games, this falls toward the more harmless end. I just think that it's important for us to be honest with ourselves. It’s helpful for us to admit that there is some silly, immature, pandering going on right here and maybe, just maybe, that isn’t OK, or at the very least, kind of stupid.
Former Contributing Writer