By Joe Sigadel / June 2nd, 2016
Disclaimer: The opinions presented in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect those of Operation Rainfall as a whole.
Mon dieu! The French government is thinking about labeling games it thinks are sexist, which would affect how those games are advertised and who would be allowed to play them. Putting such a “discrimination” label on these games would drive the rating up to 18+ and stop advertisements from being shown for them on primetime TV. The way the government sees it, they want to promote games that depict women in a positive light, and denounce those that don’t. Those that fit the bill (pun intended) will be getting some monetary assistance from the government. Some cited examples of positive female depictions are games such as Beyond Good and Evil, Life is Strange, and Dishonored 2. This proposed legislation would be an amendment to a previously passed bill which recognized e-sports and enforced net neutrality.
This idea comes from Axelle Lemaire, France’s Socialist Secretary of State of Digital Affairs, who may have been influenced by feminist culture critic Anita Sarkeesian. Ms. Sarkeesian, as you know, is the face behind Feminist Frequency’s series of YouTube videos which puts a critical eye on games she deems to have sexist traits. Lemaire had previously attempted to take away the tax credit for “games which are degrading to women”, but was shut down, so this is her alternative solution.
My take: A dangerous proposition indeed. The problem with proposals like these is that the definitions are intentionally made nebulous. Who is to say what is “sexist” and what isn’t? These days, the definition of sexism has been warped to fit certain political agendas. Is Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 sexist for depicting young beautiful women having a good time on the beach? Is Senran Kagura sexist for featuring all-girl clothes-ripping ninja action? Where do we draw the line, and why does France’s government feel the need to meddle in the affairs of fictional women in video games? What if I told you that I know women who actually enjoy these games and aren’t bothered by the content? Doesn’t this hurt them?