• Final Fantasy Sexism Part V: Women in Charge



    Welcome back to another addition of Final Fantasy Sexism. Last time, I looked over Final Fantasys IX and X and found them a bit, well, lacking in how women were portrayed (minus Beatrix, who was a positive, if qualified, step forward). You don’t need to remember every detail of the prior entries to know that I have found most of the Final Fantasy series lacking up until this point. This entry will focus on Final Fantasy XII and XIII. Will this finally be where Square-Enix turns things around?

    I have said before that this series is not about looking at one aspect of a character and saying “that is sexist!” Context matters. It is the consistent and repeated overreliance on gender-based stereotypes that is the problem, which I have tried to highlight in this series. This phenomenon not only places a limitation of female characters into overused tropes and clichés, but also serves as a reaffirmation of gender roles and stereotypes in real life. Video games have commonly told us that women are weak, emotional, flighty creatures that need big, strong, and more rational and secure men for protection and stability – because that is exactly how women are commonly viewed.




    In Final Fantasy X, for example, Yuna was far and away the most important character in the party based on in-game standards. The overplot revolved around her pilgrimage to fight Sin, and all of the other playable characters were only there to protect her in that quest. Yet not only was the main character Tidus, but Yuna’s significance in the game revolved largely around her growing relationship with Tidus. Her dominant role in the game was not the heroine, but the love interest. Tidus being the main character was not sexist by itself, but how Yuna’s relevance revolved around him minimized her as an independent character.

    Well, Final Fantasy XII showed us how to do it right.


    Final Fantasy XII: The Reign of Ashe

    Like in FFX, Ashe is not the main character. You don’t even meet her right away. But she is the most important character in your party, and widely considered the “true” main character of the game. Instead of taking a backseat to the real main playable character, Vaan, he instead takes a backseat to her story.

    Ashe was born a princess – a role that has appeared in the FF series before. She was wed in an arranged marriage to Lord Rasler to solidify an alliance, though eventually came to love him. When Rasler was killed by Archadian forces, Ashe did not lose the will to fight, like Terra or Garnet, but instead hid underground and formed the Resistance, where she stumbles across the rest of the party members. When that happens, Ashe does not bungle everything until the REAL leaders (men) take over, like Rinoa, but instead takes charge and gets things done. She is confident, assertive, resolute, and, most importantly, capable, a stark contrast to many of the lead females in previous FFs.



    Ashe, determined to kick ass and take names. And something about not chewing bubble gum.


    It is true that Ashe is captured a couple of times early on (along with everyone else) – but Ashe hardly fits the damsel in distress trope. Ashe is not captured due to her own weakness, but due to the duplicity of her partner, Vossler. And considering that most of the game’s plot revolves solely around her, it can hardly be fairly said that her purpose was to be captured and need rescuing. Unlike most other FF princesses and female leads up until this point, Ashe was a capable fighter and leader, pushing the party along through the events of the game.

    Ashe does have her emotional moments. When she first meets Basch, who she thought killed her dead husband, she slaps him. When Balthier demands her wedding ring as a down payment for his aid, she hesitates and briefly struggles with the decision. But these moments are not portrayed as weaknesses, but as humanity, and Ashe does not waiver from her resolve. While she is occasionally uncertain about her ultimate plan, such as briefly debating a potential truce with the Archadian Empire, this was due to the huge ramifications her decisions would bring, not due to feminine timidity. FFXII gave us a mature and political overplot, and the developers gave it a suitably strong and mature female lead, a stark contrast to the stereotypes that litter most of the franchise. Ashe was truly a breath of fresh air.

    And while Ashe’s outfit is a bit… silly, it’s not the blatant fan service of Tifa or Lulu. Instead, Ashe, and most of FFXII’s characters, followed the trend of Wakka and Tidus from FFX by having wacky outfits, most of which somehow managing to leave the midriff bare. Though like every other woman in the history of video games and comic books, she suffers from poor armor placement (more on that with Fran).



    It’s good that her knees and elbows are covered in case she decides to take up rollerblading.


    And then, of course, there’s Fran. Fran, the sexy Viera dressed in a confounding fashion, is the obvious choice for pointing out that maybe FFXII is not as advanced as it appears on the surface. However, I would argue that, despite her rather ridiculous choice of apparel, Fran is much less sexist than most FF women, in that she breaks a lot of standard feminine tropes. She’s a mechanic who maintains the airship, which is far from a common female role.



    Fran returned to a more traditional female role with this conjugal visit.


    Fran's significance to the plot is also not dependent on a man, where she is the sassy, confident mechanic who offers a lot of one-liners with Balthier and occasionally moves the plot along with mist-frenzied attacks and visits to her home village. She also has her own character development, also notably lacking in male-dependence, based on her voluntary exile from the other Viera. Fran has an interesting personality, but not the bratty teenager or the feisty princess that readily fit into a previously overused mold. Despite her admittedly ridiculous outfit, Fran’s personality offered a nice variety to previous female roles – which is among the biggest negatives among the first ten FFs.

    However, it is certainly true that Fran suffered from the classic female armor syndrome (also known as the ”get this steel thong out of my ass” problem) that litters video games, comic books, and movies. Like Lulu from Final Fantasy X, it is more difficult to take her seriously in such a getup, though at least Fran doesn’t take every opportunity to shake her breasts at the screen. Still, if the designers were going for “exotic,” FFXIII managed to pull off the look much better.



    ”Look! It’s someone who actually has their stomach covered!”


    There was also Penelo, who, on first glance, may arguably fit into the Yuffie/Selphie/Rikku mold that I have repeatedly highlighted as one of the most blatantly abused molds in the FF series. But I would argue that she doesn’t fit that stereotype outside of her age. A close childhood friend of Vaan, Penelo is not the hyperactive brat like Yuffie or Rikku, but is instead the more careful and responsible member of the pair. It is Penelo who reprimands Vaan for stealing early in the game, and she tries to moderate Vaan’s dream of becoming a sky pirate. It is important to note that if Penelo is not the usual Yuffie clone, FFXII is the first in at least six FFs not to include that trope. It is a milestone worth noting in and of itself.

    Final Fantasy XII was not perfect. Fran still has her ridiculous outfit, and of course it was Penelo and not a male character who was captured as a plot device to meet Larsa Solidor and be given a piece of nethicite. But it was a substantial improvement from previous games in how it portrayed female characters, and Ashe is arguably the strongest female character of the series. Regardless of how one views the gameplay, from a feminist perspective, FFXII was a welcome change and huge step forward.


    Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Takes Over

    Some years after FFXII, Square-Enix released Final Fantasy XIII. I was not a big fan of FFXIII overall, but, continuing on with the tradition of its predecessor, the game was overall commendable on the sexism front – despite some notable hiccups. Doing away with XII’s façade, Lightning, a strong, female fighter is the main character of the game. In fact, of the three female playable characters of Final Fantasy XIII, two of them are highly capable physical fighters, and one of them, Fang, is the strongest fighter in the game.



    Lightning’s cape also makes a hell of a lot more sense than FFX’s Rikku’s ribbons.


    Lightning is a strong, fiercely independent woman who never got along well with her more girly, flighty sister, Serah. At the start of the game, Lightning had resigned her military position and volunteered for a Purge in order to save Serah, who had been marked as one of the feared Pulse l’Cie. When she is marked as l’Cie herself, Lightning and the other characters seek to save themselves from the inevitable crystal stasis – and eventually the world as well. Lightning is a tough and capable leader, though fairly closed off emotionally; it is Lightning who tries to toughen up Hope when they are alone for part of the early Chapters. She eventually warms to the other party members and stops being angry at Snow, but she is a stark contrast to FFVIII’s Quistis, a military figure who is portrayed as questionably competent and extremely insecure.

    While most of the characters in FFXIII receive significant development, Lightning is the obvious leader. She is portrayed as the most capable, and early in the game takes charge when the group tries to escape from PSICOM from the Vestige. Lightning has a hard personality, similar to Beatrix in FFIX, but unlike Beatrix it did not require a man’s love to melt her icy heart; instead, Lightning naturally matures and loses her anger as the game progresses. Lightning’s physical appearance is also not exploitatively designed; while she wears a relatively short skirt, her fully covered torso and pouch partially obscuring one leg shows that her outfit is not designed to arouse.



    Ok, some of Lightning’s promotional art still suffered from Hawkeye Initiative syndrome.


    What may be most notable about Lightning is her cold reception from some Western FF fans, which demonstrates most clearly how alive these sexist prejudices are throughout our culture. Despite the popularity of previous main characters Cloud and Squall, it was Lightning who was widely derided as a cold-hearted, emotionless bitch. The “b-word” was thrown around a lot, because while it’s totally badass for men to act tough and fueled on anger, a woman who does it is just bitchy. This double-standard is akin to the “slut” double-standard of women being scorned for having a number of sexual partners, whereas such men are culturally admired. To be fair, a number of fans liked Lightning, and she has been popular enough to justify her own sequel in Lightning Returns – but the “bitch” label was common enough to warrant mentioning.

    This reaction is well-rooted in real life; as a result of feminism and more women succeeding and competing in what had previously been a man’s world, there has been a cultural backlash where women are urged to be more feminine in order to please men. (note that all of those articles were written by women) According to this view, women are supposed to act stereotypically feminine; when they don’t, something is wrong.




    Now back to the characters. Oerba Yun Fang, as previously noted, is the strongest character in the game and the best Commander. A strong fighter from Gran Pulse, Fang is fiercely devoted to one thing: her childhood friend/sister/lesbian lover Vanille. Her one moment of childlike irrationality is when she refuses to abandon her Focus to destroy Cocoon in Chapter 10, but that was just yet another painfully forced plot point in order to have her summon Bahamut (just as with the first appearance of the other summons, most notably Hope’s Alexander). I would not consider Fang as strong a female character as Lightning, however, mostly due to the fact that Fang does not have the same character development. Fang pretty much exists as-is, and doesn’t change. Still, her personality and competence make her a change of pace from most female characters of the first ten FFs.



    And based on this apparent boob grab, some have speculated that both Fang and Vanille are lesbians.


    Speaking of the ambiguously lesbian duo, Oerba Dia Vanille is the other Gran Pulsian who stumbles across the party at the Vestige, and quickly develops a relationship with Hope and then Sazh. Young, cute, and relentlessly cheerful (at least in her façade), Vanille showed that Square-Enix just couldn’t stay away from Yuffie/Selphie/Rikku mold for too long. While it’s true that Vanille’s exuberant cheerfulness is a forced front for her inner pain and guilt, it’s tough to ignore with Final Fantasy’s history of abusing that female mold. Additionally, Vanille is one of the weakest characters in the game, and is the best Medic (healer). A combination of some of the most overused molds in the Final Fantasy series, Vanille is obviously a terribly sexist character, right?



    From someone so young and innocent-sounding, her constant orgasms in battle can be a bit… disconcerting.


    Well, yes and no. Given FF’s history with those molds, Vanille’s setup is far from ideal. But as I reiterated in the introduction of this article, context is everything. Having a woman as a healer is not sexist; having women constantly relegated to that role is. Someone has to be the healer, the cute kid, or the person in need of rescue. It only becomes sexist when female characters are consistently limited to those roles solely because of gender-based stereotypes that women belong in those roles – thus reinforcing bad stereotypes while also limiting the variety of female characters. While Vanille repeats some of the earlier tropes, she does so in a game where the other female playable characters successfully break away from most of those stereotypes – and when female characters in the last Final Fantasy had also done so. The context for Vanille is very much different than the context for, say, FFIX’s Eiko or FFX’s Rikku. FFXIII offers more variety, at a time when Square-Enix seemed committed to more female variety, making it a little more likely that the choices involved in Vanille’s character were not based solely on her gender – and at the very least makes her less worthy of criticism overall.

    Additionally, a lot of typical female gender-based stereotypes were instead developed more fully in some of the male characters. The weakest and most emotional character in the party is Hope, the whiny kid who blames Snow for his mother’s death. And Snow’s sole motivation is to save his love, Serah, from her crystal stasis. Sazh is the most easily frightened of the group, and is motivated by his frequently developed love for his son, Dajh (parental love being a common motivator for female characters, as with Terra and Edea).

    But, as I said, FFXIII does have its hiccups. There is, of course, Vanille, who was analyzed above. There’s also the not-so-subtle fact that when Serah is crystallized, she magically becomes naked, whereas when Dajh is crystallized, his clothes remain firmly attached to his body. I’ve heard some explanation of this phenomenon being that Pulse l’Cie become naked in the crystal (though get their clothes back when reawakened) and Cocoon l’Cie remain clothed. But this ad hoc rationalization is further minimized by the fact that the Pulse l’Cie crystals you spend any time staring at in the game are women. How silly and pointless.



    I can only assume the clothes disappear as encouragement to save her.
    If she were clothed and ugly, after all, no one would care.


    Overall, however, FFXIII remains a largely positive step, and a definite improvement over most other games in the series. Most of the weaknesses of the female playable characters (such as Fang’s lack of development) are attributable to shoddy writing rather than worn out, gender-based stereotypes.

    Ashe and Lightning were two strong female characters in two consecutive FF games. Final Fantasy XII was probably the strongest in the series for women, with Ashe, Fran, and Penelo offering a nice variety of roles, strengths, and personalities without forcing any them into the same tired molds. While FFXIII has its missteps, Lightning and Fang were also largely free of those gender tropes that FF writers had so frequently relied on in the past, and they are confirmation that Square-Enix is consciously trying to improve.

    With Lightning being forced into the new face of the Final Fantasy franchise, and having two strong female leads in two consecutive games, it looks like Square-Enix is now taking women seriously. There was a lot to criticize in the first ten games, but there is also much to praise about the direction SE is currently moving. Let us hope that this trend continues for future games in the series.

    That brings us to the end of our overview of the games. What did you think? Were FFXII and XIII that much of an improvement? What was the most sexist game in the FF series? Should I do a Part VI to look at how these issues play out in real life? Leave your comments/suggestions/ridicule below!

    The full FF Sexism series:

    Part I
    Part II
    Part III
    Part IV
    Part V


    [Unless otherwise credited, all FF images are from The Final Fantasy Wiki]
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Final Fantasy Sexism Part V: Women in Charge started by Raistlin View original post
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. Formalhaut's Avatar
      Formalhaut -
      I'm going to miss reading these
    1. The Summoner of Leviathan's Avatar
      The Summoner of Leviathan -
      Good article! I enjoyed it!

      My only suggestion would have been to address the rumor regarding Fang originally being designed as a male and how that plays into her character. The rumor itself is interesting in how it relates to the fan's perception of women. Moreover, what does it say about Fang as a woman if she were truly written as a man originally? Is it positive? Negative? Somewhere between?

      Also, while women for much longer and more systematically been afflicted by sexism, it would be interesting to see sexism that some of the male characters represent. I mean Hope's reception was very mixed admist the fandom. As you mention he is the "weakest" character in the cast, as well as being the most emotional and irrational. I wonder how much of the dislike of Hope is from the fact that he is engendering femininity (insofar as it is constructed and stereotyped)? That a male in a non-masculine role is also received poorly, much like how Lightening in having "masculine" characteristics is thought to be a bitch?

      Anyways, just some thoughts and questions!

      I think a Part VI would provide a nice summary and would be nice to relate it to real life since I have a feeling there are those out there who would be like "It is just a game, fantasy: not real".
    1. Huckleberry Quin's Avatar
      Huckleberry Quin -
      I always felt that Penelo was captured because none of the other characters could reasonably be captured, apart from Vaan who was otherwise indisposed. Balthier, Ashe, Basch and Fran would never get captured in such a poncey fashion. Penelo was the necessary spare character, and also the one that would most likely be willing to sit down and chat with a Solidor.

      Good series, Raist.
    1. Loony BoB's Avatar
      Loony BoB -
      "friend/sister/lesbian lover"

      Man, you make it sound dirty when you don't point add "one of" "or" "either" "depending on your viewpoint" etc. You've basically just dragged incest into Final Fantasy, and that's a whole new article.

      EDIT: Also, I think Hope is the best healer in the game... although it's tough to say when you consider Healing Rod enhances healing magic. I'm unsure if this puts her ahead of Hope or not.

      As for the crystal thing, that definitely holds merit, although I suspect they would have already created the crystal forms of the females and then got to Dahj and gone "Wait, we can't have a naked kid in a video game" and given him clothes based on his age, not his gender. Still, they could have easily solved this conundrum by actually showing an adult male in crystal form.
    1. Shauna's Avatar
      Shauna -
      Quote Originally Posted by Loony BoB View Post
      EDIT: Also, I think Hope is the best healer in the game...
      I was always under this impression too. I dunno though, never looked at their base stats. x3
    1. Loony BoB's Avatar
      Loony BoB -
      Maybe Raistlin was just assuming she was the best healer in the game because he's so sexist.
    1. Raistlin's Avatar
      Raistlin -
      I'll have some more to say after work, but I just wanted to say now that while Hope has the highest magic stat, IIRC Vanille's healing weapon makes her the best healer, though Hope is the overall best magic-user. It's also notable that Vanille, and not Hope, is the one with the weapon with a healing bonus, especially given the FF series's history of having female healers.
    1. Loony BoB's Avatar
      Loony BoB -
      While Healer's Staff certainly carries bonuses of 20%, the maximum MAG stat on a Nirvana built from a Healer's Staff is 424 comopared to Hope's best weapon which carries 917. With this in mind, combined with the 1700/1900 split on base magic from the crystarium...

      Vanille: 1700 (Crystarium) + 424 (Healer's Staff upgraded to Nirvana) = 2124 Magic + 20% = 2548.8 Magic
      Hope: 1900 (Crystarium) + 917 (best magic weapon upgraded to Nue) = 2817 Magic

      It would then come down to exactly how the magic stat factored into healing, and if that 20% is based on magic alone or is actually adding to heals, etc. Either way, just because she has a 20% bonus on that weapon doesn't mean she's instantly the best healer. I mean, you could get a 20% defence bonus on a weapon for Hope but it won't make him the best Sentinel.

      Once you come down to it, while Vanille potentially could be the best healer, it's really not as cut and dry as you might think and saying that it's sexism is something I would call out as wrong in this case. Hope is actually identified by SE as the better healer in the official guide, where it notes that Vanille's advantage over him as a medic comes from her additional HP. Vanille's primary role in the long run is, for me, Saboteur.
    1. Old Manus's Avatar
      Old Manus -
      well now I feel like a sexist pig for thinking Lightening was a rubbish character
    1. Formalhaut's Avatar
      Formalhaut -
      Quote Originally Posted by Loony BoB View Post
      While Healer's Staff certainly carries bonuses of 20%, the maximum MAG stat on a Nirvana built from a Healer's Staff is 424 comopared to Hope's best weapon which carries 917. With this in mind, combined with the 1700/1900 split on base magic from the crystarium...

      Vanille: 1700 (Crystarium) + 424 (Healer's Staff upgraded to Nirvana) = 2124 Magic + 20% = 2548.8 Magic
      Hope: 1900 (Crystarium) + 917 (best magic weapon upgraded to Nue) = 2817 Magic

      It would then come down to exactly how the magic stat factored into healing, and if that 20% is based on magic alone or is actually adding to heals, etc. Either way, just because she has a 20% bonus on that weapon doesn't mean she's instantly the best healer. I mean, you could get a 20% defence bonus on a weapon for Hope but it won't make him the best Sentinel.

      Once you come down to it, while Vanille potentially could be the best healer, it's really not as cut and dry as you might think and saying that it's sexism is something I would call out as wrong in this case. Hope is actually identified by SE as the better healer in the official guide, where it notes that Vanille's advantage over him as a medic comes from her additional HP. Vanille's primary role in the long run is, for me, Saboteur.
      For me, Hope has always been my primary medic. While they are incredibly close run, your stat analysis is quite impressive but also it's got something to do with their crystarium growth. Looking at the Medic abilities and where they get them...

      Stage One

      Cure: They both get it straight off the bat. Simple.

      Stage Four

      Cura: Only Vanille gets Cura here, and she also gets...

      Esuna: ...again, Vanille only here.

      Stage Five

      Cura: Hope gets it here, a full stage later. He also gets...

      Esuna: ...here as well. So far, Vanille has the "ability advantage" so to speak.

      Stage Six

      Renew: Both Vanille and Hope gets this here.

      Raise: Yup, Vanille only!

      Stage Eight

      Raise: Hope FINALLY gets Raise.

      Curasa: Hope gets this here, as does Vanille.

      Curaja: Vanille gets this only. Sorry Hope.

      Stage Nine

      Curaja: Hope finally gets Curaja.


      Sorry if that seemed long-winded, but basically, Vanille gets her abilities generally earlier than Hope, not to mention that Hope has to wait until deep into Stage Nine to get his final Cure ability, Curaja. This isn't the only factor to take into account though, all abilities being equal I still find Hope better for me because of his rapid casting speed; I find Vanille's initial hop to the side and orgasmic motioning to be slightly slower, which, being a crucial role isn't ideal. Hope meanwhile does an amazing job at spamming heals.

      I think the developers intended tomake Vanille the better medic because her ravager abilities are generally inferior to Hope who has the entire command of the elements, so as a balance tried to make her a better medic as a balance. Still, I do prefer Hope if given the choice.

      Sorry for derailing the thread sort of!
    1. Dr. rydrum2112's Avatar
      Dr. rydrum2112 -
      I agree with the guys above, Hope is the best medic. Vanille was the best Saboteur.
    1. Raistlin's Avatar
      Raistlin -
      Thanks for the comments, everyone.

      Quote Originally Posted by The Summoner of Leviathan View Post
      My only suggestion would have been to address the rumor regarding Fang originally being designed as a male and how that plays into her character. The rumor itself is interesting in how it relates to the fan's perception of women. Moreover, what does it say about Fang as a woman if she were truly written as a man originally? Is it positive? Negative? Somewhere between?
      If anything, it wouldn't be a very progressive thing for the strongest character to start as a man and have to be turned into a woman due to a lack of female numbers. But I think it means for FFXIII than it would have meant in some of the earlier games; after all, FFXIII already had Lightning.

      Also, while women for much longer and more systematically been afflicted by sexism, it would be interesting to see sexism that some of the male characters represent. I mean Hope's reception was very mixed admist the fandom. As you mention he is the "weakest" character in the cast, as well as being the most emotional and irrational. I wonder how much of the dislike of Hope is from the fact that he is engendering femininity (insofar as it is constructed and stereotyped)? That a male in a non-masculine role is also received poorly, much like how Lightening in having "masculine" characteristics is thought to be a bitch?
      This is a great point, and I agree fully. Though whining is not as overused a female stereotype in FF as some other tropes. Admittedly, I do have some trouble even coming up with a defense for Hope, who I viewed as insufferable (the anti-climax of his dad being a normal guy after Hope's immature demonization could have been an article from the Onion). I only focused on the female playable characters due to concerns about length; I wanted a narrow enough focus that I could try to feasibly cover it. But the male characters throughout the FF series certainly have their own issues regarding sexism and the portrayal of gender dynamics.

      Quote Originally Posted by Loony BoB View Post
      While Healer's Staff certainly carries bonuses of 20%, the maximum MAG stat on a Nirvana built from a Healer's Staff is 424 comopared to Hope's best weapon which carries 917. With this in mind, combined with the 1700/1900 split on base magic from the crystarium...
      You're missing the forest for the trees here, Daniel. Based on the sexism thread in EoEO, I don't think you fully appreciate the significance of context. And I also agree with Formy's analysis that Vanille was certainly intended to be the best healer, and in my experience she generally was with the healer staff (though I personally preferred Hope for the overall higher magic stat). And it's indisputable that she's better in the first half of the game, as she gains stronger healing abilities quicker than Hope. And late game, after you start branching out into other classes' abilities outside the original three, Vanille's improved healing ability is basically the only thing she has going for her.

      And regardless, context matters. I don't have to prove that Vanille was objectively the best healer to make my point. Despite signs of improvement, FF still had a history of relegating women to healing roles throughout the entire series. You don't think it's significant then that Vanille is the one given the earliest access to healing abilities and the staff to significantly improve healing? If you can't appreciate the significance of that trend, there's not much more I can say.

      Quote Originally Posted by Old Manus View Post
      well now I feel like a sexist pig for thinking Lightening was a rubbish character
      Haha, that was certainly not my intention. There are perfectly reasonable, non-sexist reasons to dislike Lightning, along with any other character. Personally, I thought she was an ok character, but not really deserving of all the hype and fanfare that SE has been giving her. But in this particular case, it's notable that Lightning was derided for being "cold" and "bitchy" from the same fanbase that largely celebrates similarly emotionless badasses who are male. If you dislike Lightning for those reasons when you enjoy those same traits in male characters, then you're being sexist.

      Solely from the perspective of feminism and the progression of portrayals of female characters, Lightning was a positive step. I'm otherwise not commenting on her overall worth or... well, generally likeability.
    1. Loony BoB's Avatar
      Loony BoB -
      Quote Originally Posted by Raistlin View Post
      And late game, after you start branching out into other classes' abilities outside the original three, Vanille's improved healing ability is basically the only thing she has going for her.
      You didn't use Vanille much, huh? She's often regarded as the best Saboteur in the game. To say her improved healing ability is the only thing she has going for her is absurd.

      It could be argued that she gets the better healing spells earlier because of balancing. She's slower to cast and has a lower magic stat, but during the early game you have fixed parties and therefore the healers need to be balanced in order for them to both be effective in their respective parties. To balance the slower casting and lower magic stat, they simply gave her faster access to more powerful healing spells, meaning both of their respective parties could advance at a fairly even pace.

      And regardless, context matters. I don't have to prove that Vanille was objectively the best healer to make my point. Despite signs of improvement, FF still had a history of relegating women to healing roles throughout the entire series.
      Oh, regarding the entire series, I absolutely agree. I just think it's harsh to say that Vanille being a good healer is sexism when Hope is better. Don't get me wrong - I preferred Vanille to Hope, personally, despite him being the better healer. But to say that "oh, look, a female is the best healer, HO HO HO SEXISM SQUARE ENIX" is wrong, because if anything this game is the first game in about two decades where a male was arguably the best healer (and clearly labelled as such in the official manual) in the game. I guess, if anything, you could argue it sexist that she's the only one who receives a weapon that enhances healing.

      I can understand how people might see her as the primary healer in the game, but she happily shares the healer role with Hope (a guy) and I do question whether or not it might be sexist for people to run around assuming she's the best healer in the game when she quite frankly is not. People just don't think about Hope as a healer because they're too busy assuming that as a guy he must therefore be a ravager first and a healer second.

      In fact, the more I look at the sexism article you've presented, the more I'll happily point out that your entire article focuses on sexism towards females when every argument about a female being a resident healer in this game could just as easily be made about a male being a resident black mage. Snow is a walking stereotype, too, surely?
    1. Mirage's Avatar
      Mirage -
      Maybe I'd call Lightning a cold bitch, but I called Squall and Cloud the same! Well, at least to begin with. They don't seem as coldbitch for as long because you get to see squalls insecure thoughts and clouds... other stuff. I think maybe Lightning took a lot longer to open up to the player.

      And yeah, I kind of agree With Lob. It's not all that fun to constantly be told (between the lines) that people of my gender only are good for destroying trout either. It goes both ways!
    1. Raistlin's Avatar
      Raistlin -
      Daniel, you're so oblivious. xD I never take you seriously as a rule, but it's getting even tougher to fake it here. "It could be argued" that Vanille's access to higher-level healing magic doesn't mean she's the best healer? Your after-the-fact, purely hypothetical rationalizations notwithstanding, I don't think there's room for debate that Vanille was a primary healer.

      But to say that "oh, look, a female is the best healer, HO HO HO SEXISM SQUARE ENIX" is wrong...
      How did you manage to say that right after you quoted me saying it's all about context? Unless you're not even claiming that I'm arguing that, but making a general point but trying to make it sound like I said that because you're a buttface. If it wasn't for FF's history of relegating women to healing roles, if it wasn't for FF's history of self-parodying over reliance on the Yuffie/Selphie/Rikkue "genki girl" mold, then Vanille wouldn't even be worth mentioning in a discussion on sexist portrayals of women. But given that context, those things about Vanille are worth pointing out.

      In fact, the more I look at the sexism article you've presented, the more I'll happily point out that your entire article focuses on sexism towards females when every argument about a female being a resident healer in this game could just as easily be made about a male being a resident black mage. Snow is a walking stereotype, too, surely?
      There are absolutely sexist portrayals of men. This series, as I stated in the beginning and have continually reiterated, was simply focused on female playable characters to demonstrate certain types of sexism. I have not even tried to argue that this series covers every sexism issue in the entire series, because it doesn't. There are a number of reasons for my narrow focus, one of which was simply length. These articles are very long and still less-than-ideally thorough even with my narrow focus. But women are also more negatively impacted by cultural sexism, and the standard RPG audience in the West (young, generally white males) still generally dismisses the issue -- as you, to be quite honest, have amply demonstrated.
    1. Aulayna's Avatar
      Aulayna -
      Quote Originally Posted by Loony BoB View Post
      But during the early game you have fixed parties and therefore the healers need to be balanced in order for them to both be effective in their respective parties.
      This is a very valid point though. During the initial 20-25 hours of the game you are locked into fixed parties so the second party was obviously going to need someone initially put into the Healer role. I can't remember if this is accurate or not but I believe the only male member of the 2nd party is Sazh who you've already used before Fang and Vanille come into the picture so it wouldn't really be possible for him to subsequently get put into the Healer role and for all the players progress involving that character to be lost. Then the other thing to consider would be that if they made Vanille male which would change the Vanille/Fang dynamic considerably would that become less - or even more sexist?

      In the light of context I'd say this was a game balance decision and not something inherently and deliberately sexist even if you could argue the opposite. But the fact that she can then go on to be the undisputed best Saboteur in the game kind is an immediate dispute to that. Within the contexts of your series if it was inherently sexist she surely wouldn't have any strong progression outside of the healer role, no?
    1. Formalhaut's Avatar
      Formalhaut -
      To be honest, aren't we being incredibly anal by dissecting the in-game statistics and abilities down to the finest details?
    1. Loony BoB's Avatar
      Loony BoB -
      Quote Originally Posted by Formalhaut View Post
      To be honest, aren't we being incredibly anal by dissecting the in-game statistics and abilities down to the finest details?
      Yeah, but the general point behind it is that saying Vanille is the best healer in the game and that such a 'fact' is sexist is misleading when she is not the best healer at endgame, is arguably forced into the healing role in the early game, inevitably has about the same overall healing 'power' as Hope when they are both in your party despite the better spells and so on... it's just misleading to point it out when there is a guy in the same boat. It's like... okay, say you have an office that has in the past traditionally been sexist and, for twenty years, always hired women in sales and never men. A few years pass and you return to that office, and there is a woman and a man in the sales department. Do you complain that it's sexist that the woman is in the sales department, and do you say "Oh, she's clearly the main sales person" when the guy outperforms her on various aspects of sales? No, you don't. You applaud the company for finally getting a guy into sales.
      Quote Originally Posted by Raist View Post
      But women are also more negatively impacted by cultural sexism, and the standard RPG audience in the West (young, generally white males) still generally dismisses the issue -- as you, to be quite honest, have amply demonstrated.
      :rolleyes2: See above and tell me what you think of the sales department analogy.

      As for the male aspect, I think having five articles on women and zero on men would be a shame. People are much, much faster to dismiss male stereotypes than they are female stereotypes, so I'd be interested if you did a single article on the male side of things, just to see how it all fits in. While females do undoubtedly get more sexism targeted at them, I think we shouldn't dismiss a lesser crime as unimportant because of the bigger one.
    1. Jaffer's Avatar
      Jaffer -
      I'm gonna have to disagree about Ashe's skirt. It's a lot worse then Tifa's.

      Going more into it, throwing all the blame for troubles on Vossler is not remotely accurate. She is introduced as some in need of rescuing, due to her own plans going awfray, she is then captured strictly due to the competent of her male opponents. She refers to Vaan a 17 year old as a child when she is 19 more then once which does not help make her come over as mature. While she is captured along with Balthier, Vaan and Fran, it is Vaan and Balthier group that is allowed to take the initiative to escape. and do the rescuing.

      While she is given good reasons for doing so, she is the last person to trust Basch.

      And lastly, it's Ashe who the Occuria are able to emotionally manipulate using the image of her husband. Their attempts to so with Vaan were by comparison a quickly abandoned failure.
    1. Loony BoB's Avatar
      Loony BoB -
      Jaffer! And yeah, I think it's worse than Tifa's too when it comes to how gratuitious it is. Not that I'm complaining, because I do love a nice miniskirt, but... yeah. If it were my daughter wearing a skirt like that I'd be all kinds of livid.
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