Sunday, February 26, 2012
How do women use ICT's for their own empowerment?
The above picture is the group of girls known as Frag Dolls
A Frag Doll (according to the Frag Doll website) is "a gamer girl with the skills to dominate in multiplayer shooters. An unabashedly geeky female who is proud to love games and geek culture."
When I got to the Gender and Sexuality section in the Nayar reading I immediately though about Frag Dolls. Now, I am not a female gamer (unless you count my mad skills with MarioKart) and the only reason I know about the Frag Dolls is because I know an actual female gamer who did her senior research on girl gamers.
Her small study affirmed what Nayar said about the role of women in the making of technology. Because women are "rarely involved with the design and research that create the technology" (Nayar, p. 18), the most popular video games are not usually designed with a female target audience in mind and girl gamers are surrounded by a lot of negative/derogatory feedback from those individuals (primarily male) in the gaming cyberculture.
The mission of the Frag Dolls is to "promote video games and represent the presence of women in the game industry" (Frag Dolls, 2012). These girls "are known not only for being skilled gamers in multiple games, but for their advocacy of female gamers" (Frag Dolls, 2012). Which now brings me to my thoughts about representation.
According to Nayar, "stereotypes from the real world pervade even passing, camp, and drag on the Internet, thus suggesting that even cyberspace is as gendered as the real world" (p. 18) It's great that a group of females are standing up for other females in the gaming world but what are they actually saying about female gamers?
The Frag Dolls are using information and communication technologies as an advocate for female gamers. Nayar also said that cyberculture activism runs the risk of remaining "at the level of the virtual, with little or no impact upon the real world" (p. 12) and can create a false sense of empowerment. The girl who I talked about earlier who did the study on female gamers said that the main insults male gamers gave her when she (or her female friends) would play multiplayer games, were insults about her possible appearance and/or her role in life. Players would call her a "fat ugly bitch," or a "dog-faced whore" or tell her to "get back to the kitchen where she belongs." This same girl also did a survey that she distributed to only males about their perceptions of female gamers, and nearly all of the males in the study indicated the prevailing sentiment that female gamers were most likely unattractive.
I am connecting this thought process to last week's readings and class conversation, but if anyone hadn't noticed already, the Frag Dolls are "hot," for lack of a better descriptor. I don't see one greasy pimple or nerdy cowlick on their flawless "geeky" forms. Now, this is where it gets confusing because the Frag Dolls are "breaking" the stereotype in the gaming cyberculture that female gamers are "unattractive" however by doing this they are are inadvertently reinforcing the gendered stereotypes (even in the virtual gaming world where people probably don't see each others faces that often) that your appearance matters. As a female you can be a successful gamer and look totally sexual and feminine while doing it. Empowered?