Is SWTOR Bringing Back Retro Sexism Issues for Women Gamers?

Is SWTOR bringing back retro sexism issues for women gamers? One self-professed female gamer thinks so but can she back up her accusations?

L.A. Harte, of Yahoo! Contributor Network takes issue with how SWTOR portrays females in the game. When I first saw the title, I thought she was going to accuse BioWare of objectifying women or some such… it wouldn’t be the first time such accusations have been made on a video game. But what she was actually complaining about took me by surprise a bit.

She says:

“Female characters in most MMORPGs including World of Warcraft, (and even the spin off cellphone app game Order and Chaos), provide us with a beautiful but strong woman — Star Wars The Old Republic falls very short.”

Um… so WoW has beautiful female characters and SWTOR doesn’t? I’m betting L.A. Harte plays a Night Elf.

So anyway, just how does she think SWTOR falls short? I was anxious to read myself. She explains:

“Firstly, the women of Star Wars The Old Republic have very boyish hair. The franchise does well to strip key elements of “femininity” from the characters. They have gangly bodies and look more like teenaged boys than women. The lack of feminine characteristics down to even long hair can disturb any woman gamer.”

As a female gamer, let me just say that she does not speak for us all. My Sith Warrior has Leia buns and a breastplate that shows a bit too much skin to even seem like it’s giving her protection. She’s sexy but she’s brutal and the way I’m racking up those Dark Side points, she’s not looking to play the “poor me” role any time soon. 

None of my characters have “gangly bodies” and all are quite curvy and well-endowed. They look nothing like teenage boys. I don’t see the lack of feminine characteristics at all but let’s entertain this opinion for just a moment:

Firstly, SWTOR is a game very much about story (duh!) and it doesn’t seem realistic to have Sith Lords and Jedis running around with long, pretty hair and fancy dresses on. SWTOR puts us in the role of the warrior, not a piece of eye-candy trying to land a man. Practicality wins out. She’s asking the game to sacrifice story to give her prettier girls to play? There are other games for that sort of thing.

But now let’s revisit the topic of female beauty in the first place. She says the “lack of feminine characteristics” but I’m not buying that. What exactly does she use to define femininity? I see many beautiful, feminine characters in SWTOR- my own, other player characters and NPCs.

The ridiculousness continues as she accuses the entire Star Wars franchise of being sexist:

“It isn’t too shocking Star Wars as a franchise is sexist.”

This is the point where I facepalmed. She says she doesn’t feel women gamers are welcomed in the Star Wars universe which I think is a load of crap but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
 She adds:

“Star Wars The Old Republic is an epic fail for women gamers and a win for the misogynist gamer.”

Strong words from someone who doesn’t seem to have even played the game. Are these the words of a WoW-fangirl who just hates Star Wars or someone looking for a cause to feel she is supporting? I don’t really know but I have yet to find another female gamer who has played SWTOR who agrees with her (or male, for that matter). 
She says “I will continue to fight my battles in Azeroth” and I think maybe that’s right where she should stay. We don’t need her around SWTOR anyway. 
Read more at Voices and let us know what you think.

Lisa Clark

Lisa has been an avid gamer since she was old enough to hold her first controller and a game writer for more than a decade. A child of the Nintendo generation, she believes they just don’t make games like they used to but sometimes, they make them even better! While consoles will always be her first love, Lisa spends most of her gaming time on the PC these days- on MMOs and first-person shooters in particular.