Recent rants by Anita Sarkeesian regarding the promotion of male adolescent power fantasies within video games has reignited the concern of sexism in video games. While I whole-heartedly disagree with her slanted views, it was hard not to take notice of the complaints and how they come about. You can twist many things in life to prove your points, and amazingly, without much thought, I’ve been able to pull out 5 points that may prove that Bioshock Infinite is another sexist game. Feminist can feel free to swipe these points to make their future complaints.
5) Elizabeth Not Allowed To Fight In Combat & No Female Enemies
Elizabeth is a major companion throughout Bioshock Infinite. During combat sequences however, she serves as a placeholder. No one attacks her and she attacks none. All she essentially does is hold Booker’s ammo. And open a tear or two. How is this not sexist? The main female protagonist of the game is degraded into being a ballboy essentially. Thinking back too, there were no female enemies in the game at all. None. The only one coming close being Daisy Fitzroy, who gets killed off in a cutscene by Elizabeth of all people. How is this not a typical ‘male adolescent power fantasy’ game? Who didn’t love Elizabeth obeying your choice of cage or bird either?
4) Elizabeth Required A Man’s Help To Succeed
Let’s face it, without Booker, Elizabeth would’ve stayed locked up in her tower. This is even more embarrassing considering it really didn’t take much effort to free Elizabeth from her ‘cage’. You practically waltz in and out without a problem, until Songbird decides to take the plot into its own hand and make Booker and Elizabeth’s escape slightly harder. This is again further proven by the earlier point, that Elizabeth isn’t allowed to fight her own battles in combat. Then, come the end, Elizabeth again requires Booker (or more accurately, you, the ones with this ‘male adolescent power fantasy’) to sacrifice himself in order to achieve her ultimate goal. She couldn’t have done it without him/you.
3) The Lutece Twins Prove That Man And Woman Aren’t Equal
Bear with me on this one, as this is a long, but relevant stretch. You see, whenever someone enters a different universe, aside from outstanding circumstances, the same people overlap their bodies and thus, memories. You see this numerous times in the game with characters like Mr. Lin and Booker himself. The Lutece twins however, don’t overlap. Why is that? The only explanation is that they are of different genders, thus they are significantly different from each other not to overlap. Surely that counts as promoting gender inequality? Pure gender equality would mean that the Lutece twins would overlap each other regardless of gender, because they should still be the same person. They aren’t real twins, just in case people forgot.
2) Daisy Fitzroy Required A Man’s Help To Succeed
Although Daisy Fitzroy is a bit part player in Bioshock Infinite, this simply allows for an even greater case of sexism in Bioshock Infinite. We see this more clearly in the universe where the Vox Populi have started to revolt. In it, they succeeded because of the influence of a whole other Booker DeWitt. Daisy’s influence is much weaker compared to Booker. It is easy to come to the conclusion that Daisy wouldn’t have succeeded without Booker’s help. This was also the case in the original universe (the one where you rescue Elizabeth), as in that universe, the Vox Populi were nothing and Daisy hadn’t been able to lead a proper revolution aside from sneakily killing Lady Comstock. It doesn’t help that Elizabeth essentially becomes Daisy 2.0 as Elizabeth sneakily kills Daisy and then kills an unborn Comstock (thus many other people birthed in only those universes), much like Daisy was going to kill some young kid to stop future problems.
1) Booker Should Have Been A Female Character
Let’s face it, nothing stopped having the lead character (ie. Booker) be female. The heart-wrenching family bonds shown in the game would have equally worked with a female character in place of Booker, where she could be Elizabeth’s mother. Comstock would be female too (or that’s one hell of a baptism otherwise). It would have still been a fantastic tale. Of course, given the time period, it would make believing she went to war in 1912 on the front lines very unbelievable, but we’re talking about a game with a floating city here. The game didn’t try to escape from the sexism of the past, and instead basked in it. Like I said before, were there any other female ‘soldiers’ besides Daisy in the game? No. Would it have been so damaging to provide a ‘character creation’ section in the game? No. No one cares what Booker looks like in the first place, heck he looks nothing like Comstock anyway. So allowing gamers to create their character, and allow it to be female, would have taken nothing away from the game. Unless the game was sexist to begin with.
The proof is in the pudding.
Do I actually believe Bioshock Infintie is sexist? Hell no. Are the points extreme? That’s par for the course in these arguments.