Female Gamers: “Fake” Gamer Girls and Anti-Feminist Feminism

There are plenty of images and memes circulating social media circuits depicting a girl wearing a Nintendo shirt or holding an X-box controller.  The text proceeds to insult the girl for “pretending” to be a nerd, usually calling her a whore who just found a video game controller, pair of glasses, gamer t-shirt, etc.

Hey, let's stop pretending that the women taking sexy pictures about their supposed gaming hobbies were not propositioned by men to do so at some point. Now, if only I took less bathing intervals I'd be more a REAL gamer girl and less sexually promiscuous!

Hey, let’s stop pretending that the women taking sexy pictures about their supposed gaming hobbies were not propositioned by men to do so at some point. Now, if only I took less bathing intervals I’d be more a REAL gamer girl and less sexually promiscuous!

Why people support it:  People seem to think that because she is pretty (which truly is in the eye of the beholder anyway), she is insulting “real female gamers” for posing with an article of gaming merchandise.  The apparent reason for feeling insulted is because they assume she is faking her affinity of video games.  The faking is assumed because she does not fulfill the image of a gamer girl, which is confusing enough to begin with.

Why I disagree:  The gaming community has created an image of what a gamer girl/nerdy girl should look like, and this image is supposed to combat what a non-gaming girl looks like.  This anti-image always struck me as more insulting than comforting considering I never fit into either category…  and neither do any of my personal female friends who play video games.  For some reason, we are not supposed to look like “unobtainable” women who spend time on their appearance, but instead we must look like more approachable women to insecure gamer boys.  I am sorry, but I do not wear oversized hoodies, I do clean my face and hair, I actually like wearing makeup, I spend a lot of time on my hair and over all appearance, and I personally do not like the popular black rimmed, thin framed glasses. This is the antithesis of the image illustrated to us as a “real female gamer”, but to me that image just looks like a woman with a different style.

This stereotype also plays into the idea that a woman who spends her time on her appearance is less intelligent than one who cares less to, when really it is all a matter of preference.

We get the point you're trying to make. Unfortunately, you're still insulting every girl who plays games by trying to generalize what a "true girl gamer" should be. "Let's just continue to isolate fellow females from this male dominated community, because that will help us!"

We get the point you’re trying to make. Unfortunately, you’re still insulting every girl who plays games by trying to generalize what a “true girl gamer” should be. “Let’s just continue to isolate fellow females from this male dominated community, because that will help us!”

  1. This whole gamer girl image fiasco is hilarious considering the image of sexiness constantly portrayed to us by female characters in video games.  You’re practically saying that it’s okay for you to spend countless hours playing a “sexy” female character, be it your FemShep, Lara Croft,  Ada Wong, Jill Valentine, or MMO avatar, but the second a woman who looks similar to any of them in real life comes along… well, they’re just not fit to participate in your reindeer games.  Whores.
  2. If you weren’t intimidated by a female with a different image style and/or personality than you, you’d probably try less to alienate them from your beloved gaming circles.  Really, must you be such a queen bee that you have to accuse other women as being “fake gamers” or even “sluts” when you meet her in passing?  Did her interaction with your guy friends make you think you would get less attention, so you have to accuse her of being an attention whore because she took a shower this week?  Seriously, that’s how ridiculous you are being.
  3. Men, what standard are you trying to force on us?  “Be hot, but not too hot”?  How many times will you complain that there are “no women on the internet”, then shame them when they do come around?  Furthermore, why do you act like your sexual attraction or even lack thereof toward women you meet on video games actually even matters?  Is that supposed to be another double standard we have to pass?  Maybe we’re here to play games and make a few gamer buddies along the way.  That does NOT mean we are here to try to entice you.
  4. While there may be girls out there who truly do not like gaming or spend any time doing it, but claim they do for attention, the constant accusation concerning that possibility is more detrimental than anything they are doing.  Soon enough her boyfriend would find out she doesn’t want to play Battlefield 3 with him and that’s his problem.  There are plenty of girls accused of being a fake because their physical appearance or personality does not meet the aforementioned requirements of a “true” girl gamer.

Altogether, I think you should be less concerned with our female gaming mates’ bathing habits and sexual activities.  It’s just plain creepy.  Embrace your female gaming peers, preferably without anything poking their thighs.

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14 Responses to Female Gamers: “Fake” Gamer Girls and Anti-Feminist Feminism

  1. abbey kaye says:

    While I’m not a gamer myself, I really respect this post! These stereotypes exist in so many different areas of interest — music tastes, activity preferences, etc. It’s amazing the difference that putting in/taking out my nose and lip piercings makes in these settings. At an alt concert they make me “fit in” more but if I take them out or just don’t feel like putting them on a given day people will look at me like I don’t belong.

    Such craziness! Props on the defense, keep it up.

    • Chelsea says:

      It’s so true, Abbey, and I think that in certain circumstances the double standard stereotypes are geared toward females, such as the gaming community. It would be so much nicer if people could appreciate individuality instead of trying to force it!

  2. Mr. Bene says:

    I think it’s a matter of extremes. Most memes or crap posted on the internet always shows two extremes. I do know many girls playing videogames, programming videogames and writing about videogames and they do not fit into the classic “stereotypes”. But you know, I guess it’s a matter of perspective, not all gamers are tards, not all women are tards. Balance.

  3. justplainrob says:

    As a male gamer who happens to take care of himself, I sympathize. Gamers are not, nor have ever been, “one size fits all.”

  4. Mari Gaby says:

    I am a gamer girl, and even if I considere myself good looking and girly, I find quite offensive certain “pretty gamer girls” concept pictures, because most of them just look as porn stars “playing”. I, as a gamer girl, neither get naked and cover myself with my games or consoles, nor I bite my controllers or do stupid poses showing that “I`m hot and I play at the same time”, because this is just done to attract male gamers, which I don`t think is the reason why we are gamers. I think both extremes are bad, we are not neccesarily dirty, or tomboyish, but neither we are sexy whores who play every game in underwear so boys drool all over us. We are just normal girls who enjoy videogames as much as a boy or man does.

    • Chelsea says:

      This is an angle I considered before writing this article, and while I agree and have attempted to portray that both extremes are bad, I ultimately decided not to approach the issue this way. Here are a few reasons why:

      I cannot accuse women of being whores or sluts just because they have taken sexy photos. Even if they uploaded these risque photos somewhere public, which may or may not be true, I do not believe it gives me the right to shame them. That’s a damaging outlook I am sick of seeing in a community where it is okay to play as characters like Ivy from Soul Calibur, but not okay to have some fun being a little sexy in real life.
      – With that said, us girls are having to combat slut-shaming in communities such as the gaming-cosplay one; we decide to cosplay a character who is sexy and suddenly we are called whores for it. Why, when so many female characters we love were designed with the sex appeal in the first place?

      When these photos are being used as “concept photos” of what a pretty gamer should look like, it is just as obnoxious as the posting of a greasy, unkempt girl playing a video game as an example for what “real” gamer girls should look like. The truth is one size does not fit all. Any of these photos should not be viewed as a template for what we should be, and instead we should be allowed to enjoy our individuality without being judged as stereotype.

  5. Pingback: Get your own Sammich – Episode 6 – Fake Gamer Girl | True Podcast Media

  6. Thank you for not putting girl gamers in boxes. I play a lot of shooter games and although its gotten better, rape threats still abound (primarily from the 15 year old set). Or you get guys who couldn’t fathom taking instructions from a girl though I actually prefer those to the guys who claim to pop tents at the sound of my voice (when I purposely speak at a low resonance so they won’t notice I’m a girl). I love this post so much. For a time when I was deep in my Gears of War & Modern Warfare phase I stopped all girly notions. Now I have found a happy balance. I can be sexy, I can be nasty. I can dominate, I can work as a team and do my part, I can shoot, I can fail. I can do all and be all these things. Anyways! You are gorgeous and get it. I’m glad I found my way here.

  7. Jacob Chacko says:

    No, you’re missing the point. It’s the way “gamer girls” carry themselves in games – look at that second picture more closely. The SPEECH the second girl is making is vastly different.

    Gamer girls are attention hogs where as women who play video games are equal to the men they play with.

    • Chelsea says:

      Thank you so much for this response. While I disagree with you, I must say that I have been prepared for this sort of reply. Let me explain to you why I disagree:

      “Gamer girls” are not a problem. The very term “gamer girl” simply infers a female who plays games. A girl who is a gamer. There should be nothing vulgar about that term.

      I understand you interpret those who coin themselves are “gamer girls”, or even simply those who are coined as “gamer girls” by others despite never personally taking on that title, as women who look down on other male gamers. As you have depicted in your comment, you perceive them as women who only game for shallow means of attention. You also point out that the speech of the second character in the meme is vastly different, which I am left to assume as “better” than that of the first character.

      So, I will start out by pointing out that neither speeches are indicative of a female gamer–might I even say a “gamer girl”. In fact, if I were to go play an x-box at a party and sat there shouting obscenities such as the ones portrayed in the meme, I would certainly be garnering attention. This is a fun little hypocrisy since the first character portrayed in the meme is that of a woman intentionally garnering attention based on her real life looks, assumed shallow personality, and supposed behaviors. Think about it. A girl sitting in front of an x-box saying “lol I am a nerd hehe look at me” is just as attention pandering, if not more or less, as a girl sitting there and shouting “FUCK THIS GUY WTF THIS GUY SUCKS FUCKING NEWB!” In fact, if I were to do the latter, I can GUARANTEE everyone around me would be looking my way and therefore SHOWERING me with this attention you speak of. This is just another meme meant to be light hearted by portraying two extremes, but in fact causes deeper damage by trying to portray to women what a “REAL [gamer]woman SHOULD be like”.

      While examples are extremes, with the latter being the more “acceptable” extreme, both would be condemned in reality. The reason is simple: the woman, despite however attention came to her, now has gained attention. This attention results in criticism, a natural way of things in our society. However, criticism is dished out for the sake of making the person dealing the criticism feel better about themselves. This is where the sexism comes in. The idea that women are up to no good in a male dominated community is one men, and even other women, use to shame females who have–if even unintentionally–gained the attention of others.

      The kicker is that many “gamer girls” are not like either women portrayed in the meme. They are not an extreme either way, just like many men who game are not 500 pound man-babies in their mother’s basement. They simply gain attention because people realize they have vaginas, and *gasp* they expressed an idea or opinion somewhere along the line. How dare they be people?! People who like to game but also have there own original ideas?!?!! WITH VAGINAS?!!!

      To simplify in another light, let us take the term “gamer girl” and look at it like this. Gamer girl: girl who is a gamer. How did this become a vulgar statement that is defined as “girl who likes to hog attention and view men as lessers”? It is like saying “I don’t hate [insert skin color here] people! I just hate the ones who [insert racial stereotype here.]” For example, “I don’t hate gamer girls, I just hate the ones who try to hog attention and look down on men.”

      How about we just say, “I don’t like people who look down on others as if they are better and thus treat others like dirt, even if it is on a video game.” Oh no! Then we would black out plenty of the MALE population who remark things such as:

      “lol fuckin gamer girl cunt, slut, attention whore”
      “ill rape u”
      “fuckin newb loser i won that match u hackin bitch”
      “bad skills quit playing uninstall [proceeds to harass/shame random player of any random gender]”
      “gamer girlz lol slut ur not like a REAL woman” (As if they can dictate who/what a real woman is)

      And the list goes on.

      The “gamer girls are actually just attention whores and unlike RESPECTABLE women gamers” is an argument people use to shame someone they dislike who happens to be a female gamer. This helps make them look like they are not being insecure and sexist, because in some weak way they stated that respectable women exist… somewhere. “Gamer girl” is what someone could call myself or my female friends even though we do not go around saying we are gamer girls. We simply identify as people who play video games, and if you get technical, we happen to be female. We just so happen to pass the 2 main prerequisites to be a gamer girl: we play games and are girls. So why make it a vulgar term? See how that adds an unfair, uneasy, and nasty cloud of shame above our heads? “Be careful, we’re already on strike 2 for being girls who are on this game. If we say the wrong thing… oh man, someone could pay ATTENTION to us WILLINGLY and we could be outed as gamer girls who are out here to eat digital men alive with our sleazy gnome-playing ways.”

      TLDR: don’t assume every gamer girl you meet is an “attention hogging woman who looks down on me”. A woman who plays video games is a woman who plays video games. The character of that woman is determined by the woman herself, not by preconceived notions or stereotypes related to her gender and hobby. “Girl gamer” should truly just mean a girl who is a gamer, and any negative stigma that follows are stereotypes placed there by bigoted minds who want to shame females for being proud gamers.

      Again, thank you for your input; it is part of the widespread idea that men are taught to “justly” shame women, and for women to “justly” shame other women in fear of losing their repute with the men they are surrounded with.
      Chelsea

  8. One thing that only just struck me as I read your post is the image of a “real” girl gamer is the one that mirrors the image of the stereotypical boy gamer. As if being a gamer is only legitimate if you look/act/sound/play just like boys do. If you play games, but act/sound/look feminine, then clearly you aren’t a “real” gamer, because only boys are real gamers, so to be a real gamer… yeah, and thus on with the circle.

    Like the commenter above seems to think, if girls don’t act like boys when they play, their gaming is less legit. Heck, if they even decide to play games that aren’t “boys games” they’re less legit. *facepalm*

    • Chelsea says:

      Yes, we are constantly being told how to be a “real woman” whether it is in our appearance or how we handle our hobbies. I have even seen a fair share of “Real men” memes and articles out there. I really want to meet all of these “real” people!

  9. Sorority Dork says:

    I’m really glad that I read this article. In college I was a member of a sorority, and it wasn’t until my junior or senior year that I discovered that some of my sisters were also gamers! It’s like we were both hiding it, like a secret. But amongst the Greek community as a whole, and amongst the gaming community as well, I felt excluded and afraid to show my true self: members of other sororities would rag on me for being “too nerdy, gaming and star wars WHAT WORLD OF WARCRAFT NO WAY nerd”, while gamers see me as way too girly to ever be good at games or knowledgeable of the nerdiverse.

    I’m looking to start my own youtube channel highlighting my interests: teaching the world about the realities of Greek Life while subsequently teaching myself more about the gaming world. But while reading a promising article on how to get started, at the end of it I was confronted again with harsh criticism from other female gamers who don’t want to see goody-goody-sorority-fake-posers playing games on youtube. It made me second guess myself, like people wouldn’t want to hear my message about games because I also talk about the realities of Greek Life, and vice versa.

    And then almost immediately afterwards I found this, and it restored my faith again. When I get my channel started, I think one of my videos is bound to address this topic, and I’ll be sure to cite this article 🙂

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