FIFA 16’s Feminist Move (CultNoise)

9th June 2015

In the past couple of weeks, FIFA unveiled its plan to include female football teams in the widely anticipated FIFA 16 video game. As a female gamer and football fan, I believe that the inclusion of female players could not come quickly enough.

The decision has upset many male players of the game (read: fuckboys) who are in uproar about the inclusion of women in the game. Why? Why is it so outrageous to suggest that yes, women play football and they’re bloody good at it? The backlash from the aforementioned fuckboys just shows how engrained sexism and misogyny is in sports and the gaming world. Believe it or not, women play football. Women watch football. Women play video games. Ergo, women should be included in FIFA 16 and every other FIFA game that follows.

FIFA 16 will be a pioneering video game which will truly change how we play and what we think about these digital games. It’s a clever marketing ploy by EA Sports, who must also see the financially beneficial side of including women’s teams. The profits aside, it will resonate in the hearts of many female football fans. For years, I have yearned to play as someone digital who was relatable – a woman of colour, in my case. So diverse are women’s football teams that I could actually play as someone who resembled me.

That’s never been the case. Any women who are included in video games are usually hyper-sexualised to appeal the stereotypical cishet male gamer and very rarely are there any female characters of colour. If women are included in a video game, it is usually to further a male character’s development or story. Sorry if FIFA 16 ends up hurting a few men and they cry about it, but it is the 21st century and women still aren’t being fairly and equally represented. It’s about time we had fully clothed, multiracial and strong women in video games.

There are some who will argue that including female teams shouldn’t be considered because video games are all about escapism. What do these gamers want? Escapism from being a privileged cishet male by playing as… a cishet male in a video game? Makes a lot of sense, guys. I can’t say I’ve come across any video game in which a cishet male wasn’t the main character. The argument for escapism makes no sense because not only do cishet men dominate the real world, they dominate the animated world also.

They’re also forgetting the fact that they have the option to play as women in FIFA 16 but it is not compulsory. Female gamers are forever being forced to play as men without any other option. The saddest part is that this set of gamers is more open to having demons, fairies and cyborgs in their video games than the female gender. Mythical beings have a lot more representation in video games than women as a whole.

Why is it that cishet male gamers are so scared and threatened by diversity, inclusivity and representation of the other sex? They have always dominated sports even though they are not the only sports players. Is it so shocking to realise that women play sports and want equal representation? Acknowledging the fact that women play sports and video games could help equal rights and give more exposure to female footballers, who earn a mere fraction of what their male counterparts do.

Furthermore, these strong, athletic women being included in video games such as FIFA 16 could give many young, impressionable girls positive role models. It will teach girls that despite their gender, they can be professional sports players. These female footballers, with the help of a game like FIFA 16, could become easily accessible role models, like their male counterparts are for young boys.

Even when I was a child, I always dreamt of becoming the next Paul Scholes, but I was told that I couldn’t because of my gender. He’s always been one of my favourite players, both on the pitch and in video games. I do not want to see another generation of girls being told they can’t do something because of their sex. I want them to play FIFA and see someone who looks like them, someone they can become. I don’t want them to ever think that being a footballer or a football manager is impossible solely because of their sex.

I believe EA Sports, along with FIFA, are making a bold and correct decision to include female footballers and teams in the much-anticipated FIFA 16. Including female footballers doesn’t actually harm men or male footballers; it just benefits women and female footballers by showing equality, which is still a long way off in the beautiful game that is football. Any objection to the inclusion of female footballers is sexism in its purest form – you are only objecting to their inclusion because of their sex.

Hurt meninists have been proclaiming how feminism is damaging the institution that is the FIFA video games but how is wanting fair representation wrong? If you are offended by this genius move by EA Sports, you’re sexist, misogynistic and need to seriously re-evaluate your life and your beliefs. The only agenda we have, as women, is wanting representation in a sector that has always been dominated by men.

(Originally Published on CultNoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction)

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