Welcome to another installment of our new segment, Tropes in Gaming. Mod Aria’s here today, and I’m going to discuss a trope that particularly frustrates me. It’s called “No Guy Wants an Amazon”, and it has some really toxic implications in it; especially when prominent in video games.
The “No Guy Wants an Amazon” trope highlights the idea of overtly masculine women. These are women who do not take part in what we would call “feminine acts” and take part in seemingly “masculine acts”. The name “Amazon” comes from the idea that many Amazon women rejected femininity due to their love for battle and for their size. The “Amazons” from the trope are women who reject make-up and dancing in exchange for “masculine” hobbies like swordplay and sports. They are also typically muscular and strong despite their size.
More specifically, the trope emphasizes that men abhor these “masculine women” because they do not find them attractive in comparison to “feminine women”. Honestly, it’s obvious from the start why this trope is incredibly toxic. But, let’s go one step at a time. And while this trope may seem like it does not appear in video games, it certainly does! Nasty Woman Gaming has discussed Dragon Age frequently, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that this trope is quite evident in the series.
We can start with Dragon Age: Origins. In some of the female origin stories, your Hero is often scolded by their families for loving the idea of fighting. Your father in the City Elf story discourages you from letting your potential husband learn about your combat training; it might scare him away. In the Human Noble story, your mother makes very similar comments; she goes far enough to insult you for letting yourself be seen training.
This notion appears again in Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition. First, there’s Aveline Vallen. Aveline is a soldier of Fereldan and also the eventual Guard Captain of Kirkwall. She is strong and wears gender-neutral armor, but she is constantly mocked for how “unfeminine” she is. Isabela incessantly ridicules Aveline for frightening men due to her rejection of traditional femininity. In Dragon Age Inquisition you have Cassandra, who feels she is also too frightening for men to approach.
The problem that arises from this trope is the dynamic between men and women who do not subscribe to traditional gender roles. It paints “masculine” women as undesirable solely because “masculine” women are not considered attractive to cisgendered, heterosexual men. Toxic masculinity has ingrained in us ideas of what women and men should be like. And when we don’t conform to those ideas, we are deemed ugly or freakish.
And I’m not necessarily saying that the Dragon Age games are wrong for using this trope; often it is averted due to the nature of how other characters handle it. However, that does not mean it isn’t without reproach. What Dragon Age and other video games should learn from this trope is that deciding what about yourself is good or bad based on a man’s level of desire for you is unhealthy and sexist. Too often are these “masculine” women treated disrespectfully for the sake of humor.
It’s time for us to wake up and realize that “masculine” and “feminine” labels are inherently meaningless. We as a human race decided what traits, colors, sounds and the like were considered “masculine” and “feminine”.
And now we are the ones with the power to wake others up to the truth: that a woman is a woman if she says she is. That a man is a man if he says he is. That no one has to conform to the gender binary.
That what someone thinks of us doesn’t matter; we are perfect just the way we are.
Thank you so much for reading this article! Please continue to support NWG.
— Mod Aria/Sam