Hey Monkeys, your Supreme Leader here with another article about women and gaming. This time I want to talk about sexism in general with a comparison between the West and the East and how D.Va (and Mei, to some extent) from Overwatch plays a big role.
Sexism is everywhere, and as much as we would like to say that gender equality is a thing, we are very wrong. Yes, us women have it better these days than we have ever had, but there is still so much stigma against us doing certain things. One of them is gaming. Ladies, how many times have you been called a slut or been told to go play something else? My favorite line is “of course she plays Mercy, she’s a girl”. Well guess what, you have it easy compared to the ladies in Asia. For definition, when I say Asia I mean Korea, China, and Japan as their cultures are really close to each other and are based on the same principles. I do not dare speak of other Asian countries as I don’t know their history and culture well enough to talk.
I’m not going to go into the whole National D.Va Association thing. Kotaku already covered that. But for those who don’t know, D.Va is a pro Starcraft player in Overwatch’s lore, something that is very unrealistic in the current gaming culture in Korea. Female pros in Korea and Asia in general are treated like shit. This means that a regular female gamer is also treated like shit, maybe even shittier. A girl just can not be good at anything that is “meant” for guys. I want to break down the reasons why its worse in Asia than in the West and why D.Va is so important in this.
For those who don’t know, Confucius is a Chinese philosopher that lived between 551-479BC who shaped the base of Asian society. His teachings are one of the pillars of the foundation of women’s rights throughout all of Asian history. His teachings have formed the way women have been treated and are still being treated. I want to have a look at some of his teachings starting with a Woman’s Three Obediences and Four Virtues. To obey: her father when she is young, her husband when married, and her son when widowed. Her virtues: wifely speech, manner, appearance and duties. To put it bluntly; her body is not hers, her life is not hers, her mind is not hers, her only function is to bear male heirs for her man. That being said, D.Va and Mei to some extent defy everything Confucius said about women. Therefore defying the current societal norms in Asia.
D.Va is a professional gamer, unmarried, and fights in the front lines of the war with the Omnics. That already defies most of what Confucius says about women. She is unmarried, educated, strong, and has her own opinion. That is the exact reason why women in Asia look up to her and see her as a symbol for change. Meanwhile, men see her as a threat to their standing in society. D.Va and Mei do not answer to a man, instead they are both strong educated women, fighting for a good cause and they both hold a position that is “meant” for a man. This resentment towards strong Asian women is mainly expressed through D.Va’s Lunar New Year skin, the Palanquin, and especially her Hanbok when she is out of her mech.
Due to Confucius’s teachings and today’s culture, a woman’s dignity is still expressed through being dressed. Lifting up a woman’s skirt is still considered a severe form of humiliation. And that is exactly what is being done to D.Va in game. Overwatch players in Asia would target D.Va, get her out of her mech, and blow her up so her dress is lifted (which takes remarkably more effort than you’d think due to game physics) and then proceed to teabag her. In Korea specifically, it’s a giant middle finger to the National D.Va Association, but in Asia in general, it’s a way of telling a woman to know her place. On the Chinese equivalent site of YouTube, called tudou, you can find compilations of people blowing up D.Va and lifting her skirt with the most sexist comments you can think of. Also on forums it is expressed that the only reason Mei is safe from this is because her skins do not allow her skirt to be lifted.
Modern Asian Society
Even though things are much better for women today in Asia, there are still a lot of social norms that are outdated when it comes to women. For example: in the business world it is often said that women do not close deals, they open them. In other words, women are not fit for negotiations unless its to soften the other party up with, in many cases, sex. Many of the women in high positions did not only have to work their way up, but they also had to sleep their way up or else there is just no promotion. It is also completely socially acceptable for a woman to be what we look down on as a gold digger. To this day, a woman puts less emphasis on love and more on social status and financial security. Hell, I come from a good family and my own parents tell me that I don’t need to be so educated or have a good career, I just need to find a good, rich husband and have his babies.
D.Va and Mei are both the opposite of what I just explained, making them targets in the Asian gaming scene. It doesn’t matter that you are a guy playing one of these characters, its about these characters themselves getting humiliated for defying societal norms and culture and not the person behind the controls — unless it is a woman. Female gamers in Asia get sexually harassed more than what we do in the West. It’s more vulgar and cruel to the point where you just don’t dare to get on comms anymore. Think rape, but also just detailed descriptions of what the guy’s on your team would like to do to you. As a woman, you just can’t win. If you do good, you get harassed, if you do bad, you get harassed.
The fact that women in Asia see hope in D.Va and Mei fills me with joy. As a woman who has grown up in both Western and Eastern culture, they give me hope that one day, women in Asia will be able to stand up for themselves. I doubt that Blizzard anticipated on how much inspiration these two ladies are bringing into Asian culture, but I sure am rooting for them. How about you, Monkeys? Do you feel that more women should be like D.Va and Mei? Do you think it’s about time we forget about what Confucius said and consider females as equals? I’d like to hear what you guys think.
This has been your Supreme Leader, Kazumi.