The Pink Bow of Gender Inequality

“The message is clear. Boys are the norm, girls the variation; boys are central, girls peripheral; boys are individuals, girls types. Boys define the group, its story and its code of values. Girls exist only in relation to boys.” – Katha Pollitt talking about the Ms. Male Character type present in video games.


Society and media have always perpetuated the idea that women work differently to men. Most of this I believe is because women have not been given the opportunity to like such things as video games and action movies in the past. The assumption that these are male centric pursuits has been the only thing making them so. So when you take away sexist assumptions, as it has been in video games as women account for almost half of casual gamers today, it becomes apparent that our archaic idea of gender binary is incredibly harmful and only serves to limit people.


Ms Male Characters, such as Ms Pac Man and Ms Splosion Man, is a form of female objectification and tokenism that dates back to 1983. It involves taking a male character design and transplanting it with supposed female gender signifiers such as the colour pink, long hair, lipstick, high heels, a passion for fashion and most prevalently a pink bow. The pink bow is still used in many video game series to date and is basically a way in which games designers, who are still overwhelming male (less than 5% are women), can instead of making a whole new design can just cut, copy and modify. The problem with this is that it promotes the ideal that women are just an extension of men. It says that women don’t need their own identity for the male is their to define it for them. It’s incredibly unjust.


Feminist Frequency. (2013). Ms. Male Character. [Online Video]. 08 November. Available from: [Accessed: 16 May 2014].

Hers; The Smurfette Principle – New York Times. 2014. Hers; The Smurfette Principle – New York Times. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2014].


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