The argument over female sexuality in Mortal Kombat 11 continues to rage on, mostly from YouTubers and gamers who have noted that there’s definitely some discrepancies in how NetherRealm Studios has been crafting the male fighters in the game compared to how the female fighters are being depicted. Anyone who has been following the roster reveals probably has noted that all of the alternate costumes and costume variations for the females keep them fairly covered, but the alternate costumes for the males and their variants showcase a variety of skin, or they’re just topless. YouTuber and culture commentator Liana Kerzner actually did a video breaking down and dissecting what she calls Mortal Kombat 11’s “Benevolent Sexism”.
As a quick precursor, “Benevolent Sexism” is where women are typically regarded as being kind and nurturing and men are considered more masculine and domineering. Under this broad term there are certain kinds of cultural predilections that affect both genders. Kerzner explains in the 29 minute video you can check out below from your YouTube Channel.
Instead of getting bogged down in the minutiae of identity politics, Kerzner examines the differences in design between the male and female characters revealed so far, and how the females are no longer wearing any of the outfits they sported between Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat 9, but the men are still allowed to bare their bods.
What’s funny is that Kano is actually wearing less now than he did when he was first introduced in Mortal Kombat 1.
At the 13:55 mark Kerzner dives into this occurrence, saying…
“We have four shirtless or partially shirtless male characters and maybe we count Skarlet – D’Vorah, that looks like skin – maybe we count D’Vorah but she doesn’t remotely look human. So that is the difference.
“We throw in characters like Liu Kang and Johnny Cage who have always been shirtless – why haven’t they put shirts on? If the women have to put clothes on, why do the male characters not have to? ‘Oh that’s not the character!’
“This is the problem. And this is where we get into the discussion of benevolent sexism. That women are kind and therefore held to more scrutiny when held to certain things, and men are strong, meaning men get passes in some of these things but are held to greater scrutiny in other areas, such as crime, such as violence, all that stuff.”
Kerzner attempts to tie in the agendas rife within the gaming industry with the double-standards we’re also seeing in the media when it comes to how certain media publications deal with female politicians.
But sticking strictly with Mortal Kombat 11, we’ve seen how the women have taken on a more aggressive, butch demeanor while the men have been shown to be both masculine and to bare their body.
Characters like Skarlet and Jade are mostly covered from head to toe, but characters like Baraka and Geras are shirtless or bearing a lot of skin.
While a lot of people like Skarlet’s outfit, others are disappointed that even in her alternate costumes nothing hearkens back to her days of wearing scantily clad bikini armor.
Kerzner goes on to mention that there’s definitely a change in the studio culture ideology at NetherRealm Studios, especially how they’re handling the differences between the two sexes, or rather the coddling of the female characters where they have to portray them in a specific way while allowing the men the freedom to both embrace their masculinity and their classic sex appeal.
Near the end of the video Kerzner goes into how people are criticizing those who have criticized NetherRealms for not including any of the classic costumes or scantily-clad looks from the older games for Jade and Skarlet, in particular, saying…
“You know, this idea that there’s ‘Boner Culture’ and somehow it’s just oh you’re a pervert if something is happening in the Mortal Kombat franchise that the female characters are getting sanitized to a much greater degree than the male characters are. It’s just true.
“And as much as I personally don’t care, in terms of my personal enjoyment of the game, I am extremely concerned about what this means for where gaming culture is at, and for people who claim to be against that hostile form of sexism that we all know existed within a minority of players, but rather [if] that hasn’t been replaced with benevolent sexism that is harder to see, and is far more insidious and has real life repercussions now, now that we’re getting a handle on the more hostile kind.
“This stuff has real life repercussions, and just because it’s a video game doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a good hard look at ourselves, and check ourselves before we wreck ourselves, and say ‘huh, are we letting our opinions on this thing be informed by benevolent sexism? Do we not see the issue with female Mortal Kombat characters having to cover up due to popular pressure, while men don’t?’ That’s a sign of an imbalance; that’s a sign of lingering sexism in the gaming industry. I don’t think it’s in the studios themselves, I think that they are bowing to pressure from the press and the outraged, but it matters. This stuff matters. If everybody was getting covered up that’s one thing, but they’re not.”
It’s a point oftentimes ignored by certain groups who criticize the people who criticize Mortal Kombat 11’s lack of female sex appeal. Oftentimes the critics of the critics leave out the fact that the men in Mortal Kombat 11 are big, buff, godly, and depicted in various states of undress, but the women are not.
Unfortunately the conversation around the topic has become soiled in identity politics due to the media controlling the narrative, and for the most part anyone speaking up on this issue are oftentimes shouted down or silenced on most of the larger forums.
But what do you think about the benevolent sexism debate in regards to Mortal Kombat 11? Do you think this is what’s happening to the series or is it something more deliberate? Or is NetherRealm converged? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
(Thanks for the news tip SuchaPain)