>Lightning is awesome. I just wish she was wearing pants.


I know I write a lot here about things that game companies and game artists do wrong, so I thought that maybe I should start doing occasional looks at things done right, or at least things done mostly right. I just finished playing FFXIII a few weeks ago (yeah, I know – I’m a bit late to the party), so I thought I’d take a look at Lightning, since she is now officially one of my favorite female characters evar.

[SPOILER WARNING: There be lots and lots of spoilers]

I’ve long enjoyed the Final Fantasy series of games because of the excellent writing and because they tend to be a bit more even-handed with the nudity. (Pantlessness is a bit more equal opportunity – just look at characters like Tidus or Kuja…) The more recent games in the series, from about Final Fantasy X onwards, have all had some pretty decent female characters as well. Sure there are some stereotyped characters like Rikku – the genki thief girl – or Lulu – the wise-cracking and sexy mage. But there are some really fantastic female characters – like Payne and Yuna in X(2) or Lightning and Fang in XIII. And even the more stereotyped characters are still engaging and three dimensional.

Anyhow. Lightning.

Lightning is probably one of my favorite female characters in a game I’ve played in the last couple of years.

I’ll admit to totally hating her for the first several hours; at the beginning of the game Lightning is pretty one-dimensional and unsympathetic. She’s completely focused on reaching her sister in time to save her, and doesn’t much care how her actions affect the people around her. When circumstances throw her in with people less capable of dealing with the chaos and violence that the game opens with, she doesn’t try to use her strength to protect those less able to protect themselves. Instead she bluntly tells her future companions to either keep up or get the hell out of her way. Not exactly an endearing introduction. (I’ll admit that I said “what a bitch” several times during the first couple hours.)

Still, there was one thing that I appreciated right off the bat. Lightning is portrayed consistently through the game as the strongest character, bar none. Snow might come close to her prowess, as does Fang, but when it comes to engaging the enemy and emerging completely unscathed no one beats my girl Lightning.

Is that all you got?

Lightning’s strength isn’t ever questioned – it just is. Even better, no one ever comments that she should be easy prey because she’s a woman. Nor does Lightning ever apologize for her strength or try to minimize her abilities to soothe male egos. She knows she’s stronger than everyone else, and she enjoys the fact.

Gotta love that cocky smile.

Now the downside to all of this is that for the first several hours, Lightning does seem almost as if she’s been written as a man with boobs. Out to rescue her sister from certain death, a cavalier attitude toward danger and a bold willingness to face danger single-handedly… these are traits we think of being the hallmarks of male heroes. Not to mention that Lightning does have a certain level of machismo…

Eventually, though, Lightning develops from a one-dimensional man with boobs into a sympathetic, engaging female character. The vulnerability beneath the bravado is revealed in glimpses until we get a picture of a woman who has become what she is in an effort to protect what is important to her. And we learn that the rudeness and unsympathetic behavior she exhibits at the beginning of the game are because she is consumed with guilt at failing at what she sees as her duty – to keep her sister safe. This is the kind of wonderful complex backstory that female characters almost never get. Here is a hyper-competent female character with complex motives and emotionally engaging goals who is allowed to be what she is without anyone ever second-guessing her because of her gender!

Eventually, as is inevitable in any game in the Final Fantasy series, Lightning forms close bonds with her companions and comes to value their safety just as much as her desire to free her sister from imprisonment by the Fal’Cie.

What really made me happy about the relationships she develops with the other party members is that Lightning is allowed to be a character without a love interest. She treats Hope as a younger, more vulnerable version of herself – responding to the fact that he has lost his mother just as she lost her parents, and repeatedly assumes the role of his protector and mentor. With Sazh, she shares the bond of experience and a certain world-weariness.

Incidentally, I was also very glad that Sazh wasn’t just another Wise Cracking Black Man. Thank you for resisting the urge to make him comic relief, Squeenix.

And Lightning’s initial antipathy for Snow deepens into a complex friendship between two very opposite personalities without ever once veering into romantic territory – despite the expectation for a romance between two of your party members. This makes her all that much more unique – how many strong and well-rounded female characters can you think of that don’t have a romance arc?

By the end of the game, I was completely love with Lightning as a character. She wavers in the beginning, but once she finds the path that she needs to walk she doesn’t falter in her resolve. She is strong without being unsympathetic, has complex and engaging relationships with her companions, and she becomes a source of strength to her companions.

At the end, I found myself crying just as much because of the touching reunion between Lightning and Serah as because of the bittersweet nature of Fang and Vanille’s sacrifice.

Lightning’s reunion with Serah

The final scene made me so very happy. Lightning doesn’t try to hide her feelings as she might have at the beginning of the game – she’s allowed to be both strong and sensitive and emotionally vulnerable.

The only thing…. the oooooooonly thing… I wish that Lightning was wearing pants. She’s such a wonderful, otherwise completely unsexualized character that from certain camera angles her lack of pants just felt really jarring – especially since all of the male characters (for once) were completely covered by contrast. She’s such a well-rounded and positive character that I wish that I could whole-heartedly embrace her as a universally positive character. As it is, my eyeroll is a very minimal one, and I very much hope that Lightning continues to be as well written in the upcoming FFXIII-2!


33 thoughts on “>Lightning is awesome. I just wish she was wearing pants.

  1. >I haven't yet gotten too far into XIII, as Starcraft 2 came out not long after I got XIII and I became, shall we say, distracted.But yeah, Lightening is definitely a cool character, but I hate to say that she reaaaaallllyyyy reminds me of Squall from VIII, as in I thought she was a female version of Squall. She even got a "scar". I may not have gotten far enough to see everything about her character yet, but I got a MAJOR Squall vibe form her, and I was not a big fan of him.

  2. >Now the downside to all of this is that for the first several hours, Lightning does seem almost as if she's been written as a man with boobs. … these are traits we think of being the hallmarks of male heroes. Not to mention that Lightning does have a certain level of machismo…This paragraph, it is the Lightning's Absent Pants of the article."Man with breasts" is a gender-essentialist formulation. When we think of the traits as hallmarks of male heroes, are we not selling women short? Or are the traits problematic in themselves, and to be held up for criticism independent of the gender to which they are customarily assigned?

  3. >Orcus: Lightning =/ Squall, though the resemblance is pretty strong at the beginning. I'll admit that it takes time for Lightning to develop into a sympathetic character, but she stands on her own merits in my books.01d55: Aaaarg. Yes, "man with breasts" is bad. I should not have phrased it that way! Apologies for my fail, there.What I meant is that when you look at Lightning as she is at the beginning of the game, it feels like that writers took a male character, made him female, and didn't change anything else. And that's okay, but I like the fact that Lightning later on gets to be strong AND capable AND still female without being weakened or deprotagonized.

  4. >Another Lightning fan. *internet high-five* Final Fantasy XIII gets so much hate in some circles that it's refreshing to find someone else who liked it.I have to admit, though, I found it more amusing than I ought to have when she decked Snow in the face. Sheer audacity seems to be as appealing in female characters as in male, at least to me, and she certainly gets her share of "did she really just do that?" moments early on.As for the pants… she actually does wear bike shorts under the short skirt, which doesn't change the amount of leg she shows, but does at least make it less impractical for her to flip around without further compromising her modesty. (And, while the guys are more covered up than usual, it might be offset a bit by Snow going topless)On the other hand, I always had a strong impression that some parts of Square-Enix had less respect for Lightning than the rest — the game itself portrays her as competently as any of the series' male leads, but the marketing team seemed to revert to standard procedure more and more as the game grew closer to release (consider the subtle differences between the first and more recent renders). And, honestly, the XIII-2 armor kind of makes me worried for the future of the character.

  5. >Lightning was designed with FFVII's Cloud in mind from what I understand; whether that had any influence on her written character is up to interpretation, but he also had a standoffish soldier-esque personality until the plot smoothed him over. That Lightning comes off as a bitch for the first few hours is okay; all characters, least of all the women, need to be likeable, so much a believable, and there was never a moment when I thought, "Lightning wouldn't do that." Her backstory brought everything into sharp focus, and she's consistent throughout and grows appropriately.On the flip side, Fang was initially designed to be a male character, and was flipped at some point in development. There are some points that this is obvious, but she still has many moments where she's written distinctly as female.

  6. >wundergeek & Anonymous: I am feeling a little uncomfortable with the way "written as male" and "written as female" are being used in this discussion.In real life we live in a society in which certain traits are more valued in men and others more valued in women, but I don't think it's quite fair to say that a character is "written as male" if they have more of the former than the latter.It feels like you are saying she isn't *really* a woman unless she has the personality traits society says women are supposed to have.Ultimately I am still glad that they made her emotionally vulnerable and sensitive because I think those traits tend to make for a more interesting character regardless of gender. I just don't think they should be a requirement for a female character to be considered "written as female."

  7. >Travis: This is really hard for me to pin down, so bear with me. So, I loves me some super-strong female characters that are still feminine. Favorite Firefly character? Zoe. Buffy? Loved it. Lightning (and Fang)? Awesome. If Lightning had been written with all of the hallmarks of a traditional male character and had no obvious feminine traits – that would be fine! She'd still be a super-great character who challenges a lot of traditional stereotypes about female protagonists, which just rocks my socks off. But the reason that I'm happy that she is strong AND feminine is because I'm tired of "one of the guys" syndrome. So often in real life, geek women disavow their femininity – "I'm not like other women" – in order to gain acceptance from their male counterparts. (Hell, I've been guilty of it a time or two.) That logic often gets applied to characters as well – any character displaying stereotypically feminine traits is either weaker or less respected than those who are stereotypically hyper-masculine.It makes me happy that Lightning is allowed to be strong and feminine because so many times the feminine is demonized or denigrated in gaming culture. Look at the common slurs against mages in WoW wearing dresses, or countless other examples. Again, Lightning gets to be strong AND capable AND still female without being weakened or deprotagonized – and that's the sort of thing that we need more of. I think if we had more strong AND feminine characters like Lightning (or Fang, or Zoe, or Buffy) attached to really excellent gaming properties, it would go a long way toward gaining acceptance for strong female heroes as lead characters.I hope this isn't coming off as transphobic, because that's really not my intention. I would love to see more characters challenge traditional gender stereotypes in terms of characterization – there's a lot of lazy-ass game writers out there. But I also really want to see characters who challenge the feminine=bad myth that is SO PREVALENT in gaming culture.

  8. >Travis > To add to what wundergeek is saying, it's essential to understand that tolerance isn't about ignoring our differences, but embracing and accepting them. This does get knocked around a bit, as wundergeek said, as some people, men and women both, think either that a woman has to disavow her femininity to become strong, or that all strong, heroic traits are also male traits. Which they're not.And that doesn't mean a female character that was supposedly written as a man is demeaning; if anything, it adds layers to what would have otherwise been a fairly typical fantasy rpg damsel in distress relationship were Fang male, given how she interacts with Vanille.An english professor of mine once said that you shouldn't write "male" or "female" characters, but people; I think what she meant to say was to avoid writing a character just to support the archetype you started with. Lightning could have been the dumbest excuse for a one-dimensional character yet made, but they really fleshed her out as why she acts the way she does, and why her relationship with Snow is so complex.Yet, I think anyone who's had a bigger sister looking out for them might see where Lightning is coming from.

  9. >Lightning, I felt like she was one of the few characters in video games who actually seems like she could wade through rows of foes. So often I feel like characters like Nathan Drake, John Marston, Squall, Tidus, etc… just don't seem like they have what it takes to mercilessly cut down enemies- that they should at some point give up and go home.But Lightning always stands resolute, unwavering. And that's what makes the best heroes.

  10. >"Travis > To add to what wundergeek is saying, it's essential to understand that tolerance isn't about ignoring our differences, but embracing and accepting them."Yes, but the way that the "written as a man with boobs" bit was presented implied that a woman isn't truly feminine if she does not show any sympathy or kindness, which is completely false. I know that wasn't the intended meaning, but that is how it came off as. In reality, "masculine" and "feminine" are useless and irrelevant words, and by attributing them to certain characteristics and actions, one only encourages existing stereotypes about men and women.

  11. >Wundergeek – I get that you're not coming at this from a transphobic place, so I'm not trying to attack you, but the idea of a female character being written as a man with boobs didn't originate with you, so I'll just say that I think the idea itself is grounded in transphobia and gender essentialism and should probably be reexamined. Besides, if writing a character as male and then changing to female can help writers get over their bias, that's good, I'd say. That technique did give us Ripley from Alien and Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender, both of whom are awesome! :3

  12. >Yeah, you're being a little transphobic when you say "man with boobs". What's wrong with a strong female character who has what you consider to be 'masculine' traits? Some people are tomboys. That doesn't make them "men with boobs".

  13. >As the resident trans person here (or one of them at any rate), I just wanna say, Anna apologized for that statement.But, can we talk about what we think is transphobic in this post and in these comments, and why? Because I became way more uncomfortable after people started shouting "transphobia". Mostly because I can't tell what peoples' reasoning is.Ans in support of Anna's main point, I don't find the words "feminine" or "masculine" to be meaningless, and while I don't have an issue with a person of any gender being portrayed with any combination of conventionally masculine and feminine traits, I do think the holy grail is a combination of both. Portraying characters on extremes of the gender spectrum is good and necessary for those people who exist on those ends, but it also kind of supports this easy, second-wave attitude that you can only be one or the other…and only one is really considered desirable. One of the goals of third-wave feminism is to reclaim femininity, to show that those qualities are not weak, or artificial, or bad, as we've been indoctrinated to believe. We're trying to liberate those values for use by everyone, and I completely empathize with why Anna would prefer to see such depictions in her video games, in the same way I empathize with not wanting every female character to be a hyper-sexualized caricature of womanhood. I want to see people who remind me of myself, and we need to be shown that people are a mix of all these things.

  14. >How is it remotely transphobic? I can see how you could interpret it as a stereotype that women should have traditionally feminine traits, but transphobia is a whole different can of worms.At any rate, wundergeek raises a good point here: so often characters in video games are written in a very binary manner that, in fact, does divide down traditional gender lines. Some gaming heroes could well be Duke Nukem's brother, while heroines are often demure (or genki girls).This binary sometimes still exists with the genders reversed. 'Strong female characters' are all bravado (Ayla from Chrono Trigger, Tsarevna Alena from Dragon Quest 4, as much as I love her her… Rubi Malone from Wet, etc.) while non-macho male characters strike us as effiminate. Though, this is fortunately (and surprisingly) less prevalent in gaming than some media. Pre-Other M Samus, GLaDOS, numerous Final Fantasy heroines, Leiliana and Wynne, etc. are all heroines who are strong in various ways without falling into the stereotype Wundergeek was speaking of.

  15. >Sasuga: Dude, I think starting with male characters and changing them to female characters is an awesome way to get fantastic female characters that aren't stereotyped. Ripley is such a great character (with the exception of the infamous underwear scene). Ditto for Fang, who started out male; her being female made her relationship with Vanille really nuanced and interesting. I think if she'd stayed a man, the romance would have been pretty dull since it's pretty cliche in all other aspects.Nathaniel & Sasuga: *sigh* Okay. So I'm not going to have a hissy fit and stomp around and say that you guys aren't understanding meeeeeeeee… Cause. That's stupid and immature. But, like, I wish we could sit down and have a real life conversation about this because I'm feeling really limited by these stupid words in a box right now. I think part of the problem is that "masculine" and "feminine" are pretty fucking meaningless, but I don't have better language to describe what I'm talking about, so I feel like we're kind of talking past each other here.I totally agree with what you're saying. Gender essentialism is bad! Transphobia is bad! Women who fill traditional male roles are okay! Men who fill traditional female roles are okay! (I was totally delighted that Hope was the best healer in the game. Squee! Male healers ftw!) Lightning would still be a great character if she had nothing but traditionally male traits! Yes yes and yes. I'm nodding in agreement here.It is my experiences of geekdom IRL that cause me to give Lightning a mental +1 for still being "feminine" as well as kick ass. Grooming is important to me – I dress well, I style my hair, I stay in shape. I'm NOT super girly (I hate skirts), but I take pains with my appearance and like feeling attractive. So I really fucking hate it when I go to GameStop to pick up a used copy of DDR and see the clerk doing a mental eyeroll, like because I'm a chick of course I don't play REAL games. Or when I go to Best Buy with my husband for computer stuff and the sales guy talks to my husband and not to me. Shit like that. So the fact that Lightning is "feminine" (I fucking hate how non-descriptive that word is) makes me happy, because she still gets respect that I feel like I sometimes don't get.I don't know how to articulate it better than that. :/

  16. >And that's okay, but I like the fact that Lightning later on gets to be strong AND capable AND still female without being weakened or deprotagonized. What I find troubling with what you say (and others) is that you use the words "sympathetic" and "vulnerable" to describe how Lightening gets. You (and another) use the word "bitch" to describe her personality.Women have stereotypically been seen to be the vulnerable, sympathetic types and it feels that you would have hated her if she would have been the typical unsympatchetic and strong male characteristics that most other characters have.One person said that she was to be like Cloud. Most people don't think of Cloud as "vulnerable" nor "sympathetic". They think of him as "strong" and "cool" (with his bike and shades).So, really your just proving that women CAN'T be like men, they ALWAYS have to be "female" in some way. If they were strong and cool, then they are a bitch and we all HATE bitches don't we… those uppity, aggressive women! However Cloud is afforded "bitch status" because he is a man and men can't be "bitches", so he can be as uncaring as possible and he looks cool for it.So really, in the end, for a woman to be likeable this sure as hell better be womanly and have womanly traits or else they'd be a man-with-boobs, which because they are a woman they are a bitch while if it were a man it'd be cool!That's really what I'm getting from this whole thing. A woman still has to be stereotypical female in some way (sympathetic, vulnerable) in order to be remotely strong and likeable. Course men don't have this requirement to be likeable.

  17. >Also: the words feminine and masculine are not meaningless words. They in fact are loaded with meaning.. some of it potentially sexist, but not neccesarily. One can use them to describe traits traditionally associated with women and traits traditonally associated with men without implying that these traits are somehow part and parcel of either sex (which is what I assume 'gender essentialism' means.)

  18. >Maverynthia: How could you possiby interpret the post to mean that?Wundegeek is saying that she's glad that they made Lightning a nuanced character instead of a stereotype. That's all it comes down to.

  19. >Maverynthia: Um. Yes. What Chaltab said. The reason I called Lightning a bitch is because she had people going "holy shit! Craziness and violence! You are strong and capable! Please help us stay alive and stuff!" and Lightning was like "GET OUT OF MY WAY, WEAKLINGS". Me not liking her at the beginning has NOOOOOTHING to do with not conforming to traditional gender roles and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that she refused to use her strength to help the people placed in her path who (besides Snow) were clearly not able to protect themselves (especially Hope and Vanille). The dislike was based on her selfishness and irresponsibility, not because she wasn't "feminine" enough.Also, what Renee said about re-claiming femininity – YES. THAT. That is what I was trying to say.

  20. >So, really your just proving that women CAN'T be like men, they ALWAYS have to be "female" in some way.You seem to prioritize the notion that women not only can be, but should be, like men. Which, frankly, is kind of dated. The problem isn't Anna advocating for "feminine" qualities like "sympathy" and "vulnerability" sharing the spotlight with "bravery" and "strength", it's that you somehow see this as a bad thing. If I misunderstand, I apologize, but there's really no other way to read your comment. That's really what I'm getting from this whole thing. A woman still has to be stereotypical female in some way (sympathetic, vulnerable) in order to be remotely strong and likeable. Course men don't have this requirement to be likeable.Who says men don't have this requirement? You're talking about a cultural norm that doesn't necessarily apply in this space. Of course, maybe it does…I can only speak for myself, but I personally don't care much for the rampant misogynists most "action heroes" turn out to be. Sympathy, vulnerability, kindness, cooing over photos of kittens…these are not bad things. Advocating for their erasure means the wrong-minded people who devalue them win. We should want for greater inclusion of them among all genders, and to celebrate them as great human qualities that can exist with, and even compliment, strength, determination, and power. That's what I got from this post.

  21. >@ ChaltabI'll offer a couple possible explanations for transphobia. In the trans male community, breast "management" (I don't have a better word for it off the top of my head) is a serious issue. Binding is typical, and for a great many, breast removal is the desired goal. It's a big deal, one that many trans men angst over to no small degree. And in the same way that "chick with a dick" is offensive and de-gendering to trans women, I suspect "man with boobs" would be de-gendering for trans men. I won't say more than that because I'm not part of that community and I don't want to portray myself as an expert on their issues.From a trans woman's perspective, there is some history with that kind of terminology as well. From around the 60s until now, although really achieving its peak with the publication of Janice Raymond's Transsexual Empire in 1979, many feminists actively sought the erasure of trans women. Raymond herself actually called for a sort of genocide against transsexuals. Here's a quote:"I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence."Quite often feminists of that era would point to transsexual women and assert things like, "it takes more than boobs to make a woman". And we do hear stuff like that still, even today. So yeah, there's some precedent for that kind of transphobia, and it was definitely right for people to say something. But still, I just provided a whole bunch of really specific knowledge that informs my understanding of transphobia. I'm curious why the people making the assertions thought it was transphobic. I think it's important for people to understand the "why" and not just the "what", because that's where myths and assumptions finally get dispelled.

  22. >A small comment here: there's a missing element in a lot of the commentary, which is the context of the writing. The Final Fantasy series (and most of Square Enix's output in general) are Japanese Role Playing Games, and the character archetypes they're largely written around are archetypes from Japanese culture. This culture has a much more rigid and strict hierachy of what is acceptably masculine or feminine than western cultures tend to (or at least, the cultural "vision" of the gender binary is far more pigeonholed than the western one) as well as a far more gender-separated language than English to be working with. This means that in order to get a female character like Lightning or Yun Fang, the writers probably do have to start writing the character as being male. It's been said that Lightning is very much a female expy of Cloud Strife from FFVII (and there are a lot of FFVII plot elements which show up in the early parts of FFXIII as well). My own description of her is a cross between Cloud and Squall (Cloud's lack of dialogue materia, Squall's "Why me?" attitude). It's only highlighted by the arrival of Hope in the party, since Hope is, besides being the most tragically misnamed character in the entire Squeenix oeuvre, pretty much a Young!Cloud expy (same lack of dialogue materia, same angst, same "what type of fish did you just slap me with?" expression most of the time). Having played several of the Final Fantasy game series (and indeed, several Square Enix games in general) I can point to Lightning as a Squeenix hero in the mould of Cloud and Squall and their predecessors (stoic and pessimistic, military, stubborn), while Snow is more the hero in the mould of Tidus, Vaan, and Rush from "The Last Remnant" (optimistic, sporty, somewhat thick). It's a nice blend of both worlds.However, back to my original point: Final Fantasy XIII was written in a totally different cultural and social context from the one it's being read about in. The writers, I think, had to do a harder job of creating believably strong female characters in a culture where what "being female" means is largely defined in terms of meekness and submissiveness. If this means starting from a traditionally masculine archetype, then swapping in a gender change, then hey, go for it. It's great to see female characters who are exhibiting behaviours which in both Japanese culture and Western culture have long been coded as "masculine", but who are also blending these with "feminine" behaviours as well. I really should start studying the Japanese language, I think – I'd be interested in knowing whether Lightning and Fang are using the feminine terms to refer to themselves or the masculine ones.(Later note: okay, a large comment here. My whoops!).

  23. >@ ChaltabAll I can say is that triggers often don't depend on context…the words themselves are the hurt.That said, it was weird for me too, to be honest. In my own head, I read it as, "breasts do not = woman." And phrased like that, it can actually be a really trans positive statement (not to mention a valuable thing for cisgender women to hear). In fact, I say stuff like that all the time…go back far enough in this blog, you'll see me calling someone out for equating penises with being a man. So yeah, I didn't connect the phrase to myself at all, and when other commenters did draw a connection between "man with boobs" and transsexuals, without providing any context for how they did so, it sent me into a tailspin (as evidenced by all the writing I've done tonight).

  24. >wundergeek: For me, your point about "one of the guys" syndrome really clarified why it was important for you that Lightning have some feminine traits.As I understand it, the meaning of feminine and masculine traits is just being more common in women, and being more common in men, respectively. I understand how having a female character with feminine traits would be more appealing to you in the context you described.I was just not comfortable with the implication that some level of feminine personality traits are *required* to be woman, (or vice versa for a man) and it seems like on some level we are all in agreement about that.It might just be the way things were phrased, for example using "still female" in place of "still feminine", or using of the word "bitch" that made it seem like you were not liking Lightning at first because she was too masculine and thus not a "real" woman.Selfishness and irresponsibility are negative traits and perfectly reasonable cause to dislike someone on their own, but they are also coded as masculine. Since "bitch" is an insult commonly used to enforce traditional gender roles it was more difficult for me to interpret your initial dislike of the character as being solely because of her negative personality traits and not because she was being "too masculine to be a woman."Renee & Maverynthia: I understood Maverynthia to be saying that women should be allowed to exist anywhere on the feminine/masculine spectrum, including on the very masculine side, not that they *should* be there. I agree that feminine traits should be appreciated and valued just as much as masculine traits, but I would also add that this should be true regardless of the character's gender.

  25. >I think megpie touches on some very important notes here, in that as we discuss the role of gender, characterization and striding boldly soforth, there is alot of static as the game was written in a country where gender norms are very, very different from the western world.That said, Squeenix's overall goal with its writing and marketing has been to cater to a more "international" audience. Ignoring, of course, the more glaringly Japanese interpretations of somatic language in its animation.Going back to Mav's comment about Cloud being seen as cool > not so much. Among people that didn't like FFVII, and even among some that did, Cloud was seen as whiny, weak or not hero material. He's also criticized for being effeminate in-game, as Cid lays into him about his choice of words ("Let's mosey," as opposed to "Move out!" or "Kick ass!").Unless her backstory changes a bit more, Lightning's history is a bit more grounded in reality, dealing with being orphaned, taking care of a younger sibling and dealing with stupid layabouts like Snow.Not to segue to severely but: what did everyone think about the scene where SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER Sazh is confronted with Vanille's part in everything, and alternates between killing her and himself? It has a few nuances, notably that Sazh states, "Lots of things can be excused. Killing kids ain't one." I enjoyed that he didn't say something like "Killing girls," and the kids comment is more or less appropriate given that Sazh is 40, around double Vanille's age.

  26. >Uhm, I didn't go deep into why it is a cissexist idea because I didn't want to derail the topic. If it helps for me to state it outright, yes, I appreciate that wundergeek apologized for the wording, thank you for that. Renee, I don't think that Maverynthia is saying that being feminine is bad, I read her as saying that classifying positive traits by gender is bad. Being sympathetic and vulnerable don't make Lightning more womanly, they make her a more well-rounded character who anyone can relate to. If we classify sympathy and vulnerability as making a character more of a woman, then we'll get more jackasses like Kratos. Furthermore, I think something that should give cis folks pause is that if Lightning were a trans woman, there is absolutely NO mental trait that would make the majority of people see her as a woman. ALL of her positive and negative qualities would be turned into proof that she's "really a man" and there's no trait you could give her that would stop that. What that tells me is that when anyone says "she's actually written as a woman and not a boobed man!" what they really mean is "she's written as a well-rounded character, and that's so rare for female characters that I am shocked and delighted!"

  27. >@ SasugaYeah, I think you're right about what would happen if we flipped the trans/cis thing around, and also that yes, I guess we are celebrating the fact Lightning is a well-rounded character. And upon re-reading, I kind of see the point Mav is making about a double-standard, which I'm still not convinced is necessarily in place at this blog where just because women are the focus, doesn't mean one-dimensional portrayals of men are necessarily approved of.But it does sort of raise the question, what is the feminist community's responsibility towards the portrayal of masculine characters in media (like games)? Apart from just railing on the most misogynistic stereotypes, I mean.

  28. >But it does sort of raise the question, what is the feminist community's responsibility towards the portrayal of masculine characters in media (like games)? Apart from just railing on the most misogynistic stereotypes, I mean. If you consider that at least part of feminism is a battle for the minds and souls of men, to bring them into an awareness and all, then such chauvinistic and heteronormative portrayals are the main opponent on the battlefield. It is, after all, hard to consider your own viewpoint flawed when most television programs, games and the rest reinforce your worldview.

  29. >my problem with this assessment probably lies in the fact that my main issues are with cis-centric portrayal of people in games. i like lightning for the very fact that she is stoic and that perhaps her 'male-ness' is an attempt to display the more of the gender spectrum, which falls apart when she has very cis-female qualities- such as having a hard shell cover a very maternal, nurturing inside.it's the same problem i have with the new 'character development' samus has received in the other m. where she went from being just another person in a suit who so HAPPENED to be biologically a woman. then they thought- oh, perhaps we should develop this character. so to develop her, of course they went the same route- hard shell, but inside is just another woman who just wants to be a mommy/nurturer(to a creepy space alien creature, but what evs).again, this is my fault with zoe from firefly. the bad-ass woman really just wants to try and raise a baby with her husband on a cargo ship that's constantly getting in near-death situations and is fleeing a space-wide controlling federation.no matter what, we're all just cis inside, right?but i can see your angle for these characters being fairly good for cis-women, to kind of stretch the phrase 'another person's trash is another person's treasure'.

  30. >See its articles like this that make me wish that ff13 had actually been an enjoyable game and not just a graphically awesome but poor rehash at ff7 :(I dunno though, I never thought of Lightning as a 'man with boobs' I thought, bad ass ex-soldier but then again all the ex-soldiers I know are male so….

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