By Russell Barnes
The following article is part of a multi-part series of excerpts from the author’s senior thesis. Start at the beginning here.
Damsel in Distress
#Gamergate’s concerns involve the concept of hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity promotes the dominant position of men in society. This is linked to the patriarchal societal structure of many Western societies, where men occupy a majority of leadership roles. With the high occupancy of men in leadership positions, this leads to the socialization of genders and the further implantation of the gender binary. As this step occurs, masculine-associated traits, such as physical strength, financial wellness and bravery, are rewarded with higher social standing, while female-associated traits, such as kindness and beauty, are associated with weakness and social inferiority to their male counterparts. This social and power inequality affects the dynamic of gendered relationships, often resulting in stereotypes being perpetuated through various social mediums. This cycle eventually repeats itself, and video games are guilty of perpetuating hegemonic masculinity, especially when it comes to reinforcing that women are damsels in distress.