I feel you there. Coming from an Asian culture that’s still pretty traditional despite being more egalitarian compared to its neighbors, there’s still a bunch of expectations for me to act more “ladylike” and “refined.” A few days ago, I got chewed out by my parents for being the driver between me and my boyfriend. They said he should be the one driving me places, not the other way around. Whenever me and a female friend say we don’t want to have children, the reply is always “You will in the future.” And I will forever disdain the double standard of women needing to wear makeup to look “professional”.
Still, I like being a woman and expressing my femininity. I like wearing dresses, and I would try to compromise with a person instead of trying to push for my own idea or side. This extends to games that I play. What irks me is the prevalence of the trope Real Women Don’t Wear Dresses and the idea that to be empowered, you have to reject femininity. It’s also why I absolutely adore the Magical Girl genre; it’s a total defiance of this trope by showing that you can be feminine and kick butt, or even that you kick butt because you’re feminine. To quote Shadowjack Watches Sailor Moon:
What I find fascinating about the series is that it really is girl power in action. It does not take traditionally “masculine” action tropes and simply gender swap them, no, and it does not deny or condemn the attraction of the pretty princess fantasy. Instead, it takes all the “feminine” girly stuff like frilly princess dresses and pink unicorns and makes them into implements of power. The hypothetical girl in the audience is being told that she can be as girly as she likes and still dream of growing up into power and responsibility. Feminine articles are not shackles or playthings to be eschewed, or tools good only for obtaining the approval of men — they are treated as cool and desirable things, in and of themselves.
Boy craziness is even part of this, in the way they make the knightly romance fantasy an active one. The girls wanna be swept off their feet by a handsome knight, and, damn it, they’re gonna go out there and find that handsome knight and make sure he does it.
That being said, I’m pretty satisfied with how Devon Connell handled the female protagonist so far, at least in terms of this. Something as simple as the female Ronin making reference to herself as a woman (like the Ronin calling herself a “broad”), or other characters making reference to her as a woman, makes me happy. Gender-neutral writing is fine, but I’ve been slightly disillusioned by it because of the tendency of mainstream games to imply that the MC is supposed to be male (looking at you, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon and Gates to Infinity).