Twenty-three year old Ashley Shaffer is a decorated Marine, having served two tours over in Afghanistan before she was twenty-one. Twenty-seven year old Lisa Smith is a proud woman of the Navy and a veteran, having joined immediately after graduating high school, and has served overseas in Iraq. Both women boast very sharp sniping and tactician skills, and have been awarded various accolades for their time served. Ashley and Lisa also firmly stand by their beliefs that women should be allowed to serve in combat roles, and on the front lines–and both were equally overjoyed when they found out that the 1994 ban permitting women in combat roles had finally been lifted.
One more thing they have in common is that they are both gamers–and while Lisa is more of a fan of first-person-shooters than Ashley (“I’ve lived it. Why would I want to play against some twelve-year-old punk in his basement?”), both women hold very specific views regarding the roles and depictions of women in combat games:
About the design of Quiet in Metal Gear Solid 5:
JC: “So, both of you disagree with the woman’s appearance in the upcoming game?”
AS: “I do. It’s bad enough you’ve got enough half-naked women running around in video games as is. Maybe I’m being sensitive–you know they say we Marines don’t have a sense of humor.”
LS: *Laughs* “I honestly, don’t know how to feel about it. Like, I can’t even take it seriously. Sure, she has guns–and I’m not talking about her breasts and butt–but she looks like a stripper. You can’t expect anyone to take her seriously just because she’s well-equipped.”
About fictional characters not being believable due to their nonsensical attire or design:
JC: “Wouldn’t that be judging by appearances? Case in point, a debate a friend and I always get into is the whole, “Tattoos in the workplace” ordeal. Just because a doctor has a full sleeve and back piece doesn’t make him any less capable of saving lives.” People are saying the same about the woman in Phantom Pain–just because she’s dressed the way she is doesn’t mean isn’t a capable soldier.”
AS: “And what ‘people’ told you that lie? Lemme guess; the men that actually designed it? Or the dudes who are gonna shell out money just to see a woman’s tits jiggle around? That’s not how I personally see it at all. Just because you give a gun to someone and say, “Go play war” doesn’t mean they are capable soldiers at all. Come on! That’s like someone playing Call of Duty or something and suddenly joining the service with the mindset of, “I can do this! I’ve played CoD since I was five!” “
LS: “No, I’d have to agree with you (Ashely). In my time serving, you always come across new recruits who think they can actually serve just because they play shooting games at home “all the time”. These same recruits never make it past their second week of basic. Coincidentally, it’s the same recruits who have a very low opinion of women in the military, so it doesn’t surprise me that those who can’t make it in the actual service go home and design these games with these dumb female characters.”
LS: “It’s true. Think of the people you have behind these “war” games. How many of them have actually served? I bet I can count on one hand–two? One and half? These are the same minds who are just now allowing female soldiers in Call of Duty.”
About taking the opinion or perspective of women soldiers into account when designing a military video game:
LS: “It’s because you have men who are designing these games in the first place. Put me, or any of the women who have served in charge of a shooter that includes women as the main protagonists. You can bet that you’ll get a character who is far more concerned about her kill streak than she is her makeup or how she looks. And you can believe she wouldn’t be running around in a bikini either. Save that for Dead or Alive where the women don’t do any real combat, and flounce around with their tits bouncing like they are in a rodeo.”
About the imbalanced portrayal of male characters versus female characters:
AS: “And that’s something else! Even in games where women have armor, have you noticed that their armor is pretty…lackluster? You’ve got dudes decked out like the Juggernaut from X-Men, and then when it comes time to add armor or any sort of protection to a female character’s appearance, it covers what? Nothing.“
JC: “Not true. Commander (Fem)Shepherd is actually covered from head to toe. Same goes from Samus when she’s wearing her suit.”
AS: “BOLLOCKS. FemShep is only a woman incarnation of the original male Shep. And Samus spends more time out of her suit than she does in it. And what is she wearing when she’s not in her suit? Blue, liquid latex. The problem with both the military, and video game worlds, is that both are governed by a male-dominated system in which said system is used to benefit men only. Equality in the service, as well as in video games, is still a long way away from women. This may even be bold of me to say, but $#@! it–we, as women in the service face gender-based discrimination daily. Even with rape in the military, a woman can still lose or have her title stripped from her for even reporting it, while the man who raped her is still free to serve and gets a slap on the wrist. And, while the consequences aren’t as severe in regards to women who have to have their validity as a gamer questioned, it’s a very safe bet to make that, on certain levels, and different tiers, women soldiers, and women gamers, are basically fighting the same battle. We go through the same loops daily: Gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, validity of our supposed “roles” in both serving and in video games…”
About the current state of affairs and the status quo:
LS: “But that number is low. Ash is right–the negative comparisons to how women are treated in the service, to how we are depicted in video games, and to how women gamers are treated–are too similar for my comfort. There needs to be a change.”
And the most important bit:
JC: “And as far as pushing for the inclusion of more, and better realistic portrayals of women soldiers in video games such as Modern Warfare, Halo, and Call of Duty?”
AS: “We (as women) serve, and put in just as much time, work and dedication as our fellow male soldiers do. And we reserve the right to defend our country whether it’s in real life, or in video games. You don’t see male soldiers in video games or in real life, just running around in their shorts with guns simply to appeal more to female audiences. Why can’t women soldiers get the same respect and dignity from video game creators as well? It’s an insult that we don’t, and that women soldiers in video game–when included–are only seen for their bodies and not their skill or contributions on the battlefield.”
Some points I agree with, others not so much (they induce the "$#@! please" reflex). Also that bit about judging from appearances is complete hypocritical bull$#@!. Everyone is picking on Quiet without having any context to that character. Move on people
interesting gaf response
In my 4 years as an Active Duty Marine and in my two tours in Iraq, my main interaction with female Marines was to take them out on patrols with me in order to search female civilians.
Most of the time they were too dehydrated or physically exhausted to carry the mission to its completion time and we usually were able to return to base early, in order to accommodate them.
These "Lionesses" weren't properly trained to be able to handle the harsh patrolling schedules and extreme heat, and they were a liability outside the wire.
Hopefully when they start adding females to combat units, they will be properly trained up to the same standards as everyone else. I didn't feel comfortable taking poorly trained and weak females outside into a combat zone with me. A part of me felt happy when we took women out with us, though, because I knew we would be able to RTB early. Does that make me a bad person?