Well, when I was nine years old Star Trek came on," Goldberg says. "I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, 'Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there's a black lady on television and she ain't no maid!' I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be (x).
As Whoopi Goldberg said, seeing someone in the media that you identify with is important because it impacts your opinion of how well you do in life. As a woman, it’s important for me to find accurate and diverse portrayals of other women in the media that we consume.
“Every time you see this kind of image, these are the limited range of characteristics, which one assumes is going to be implicated in the image. It’s how a stereotype functions. People have assumed that therefore what this is doing is a powerful way of circulating in the world a very limited range of definitions of who people can be, of what they can do, what are the possibilities in life, what are the natures of the constraints on them. I mean, the image is producing not only identification… it’s actually producing knowledge; what we know about the world is how we see it represented.” (x)
Imagine how someone feels when their identity is stereotyped constantly. It’s important for those of us that are vastly underrepresented.
Women in the media aren’t always underrepresented, stereotyped or secondary characters (or used to only further the male character's story line), but it happens so much, that there is a test for films (that was made as a bit of a joke to make fun of the fact that there are so few movies with significant female characters in them) called the Bechdel Test.
Women may make up 51% of the population, but actresses nabbed only 29.9% of the 4,379 speaking parts in the 100 top-grossing films of 2007 (x)Pretty much the same goes for video games: it comes in the form of the Damsel in Distress trope.
As a trope the damsel in distress is a plot device in which a female character is placed in a perilous situation from which she cannot escape on her own and must be rescued by a male character, usually providing a core incentive or motivation for the protagonist’s quest. In video games this is most often accomplished via kidnapping but it can also take the form of petrification or demon possession for example. Traditionally the woman in distress is a family member or a love interest of the hero; princesses, wives, girlfriends and sisters are all commonly used to fill the role. (x)
As explained in this video (as part of a miniseries), video games frequently use female characters as an object for the main character's advancement.
Not to say that there aren't video games with super amazing and butt-kicking female leads, but the fact that there are so few of them out there shows how little the creators are thinking of women (even though women make up 45% of the video game industry.
It's like tumblr user kirkspocks said: "how am i supposed to know that i’m normal, that i’m beautiful, if i never see anyone else like me on television and in magazines?"
I grew up with Barbies with blonde hair and blue eyes. While yes, there are women who look like that and little girls who would grow up looking like that, how can any child grow up and think that it's okay to look how they look and be who they are if they never see themselves on TV or on magazines or in books?
Remember to put your best work out there, but don't forget the social implications of those little kids or teenagers who will grow up thinking that they are out of the norm since they are never represented.