Super Mario Bros. for NES introduced the concept in the early 80s. After defeating Bowser in the first castle, Mario finds a one of the Toad people who informs him that his journey is far from over. The Legend of Zelda takes this concept to the next level. Link battles through all of Hyrule just to find that he can save Princess Zelda, but he does not really get the girl in the end. These characters are joined by many as the icons that gamers spend hours trying to save and protect. With the significant influence from their games, does this have an effect on how they see real life relationships and expectations of the opposite sex?
A couple of days ago, Arthur Chu over at The Daily Beast blogged to discuss this very issue. His article highlighted how the recent actions of one man serve as an example for how men have become misguided in their assumptions of finding relationships, love, and sex with women. Being there to save the princess does not automatically mean that the princess must give herself to the hero’s every whim. Also highlighted were shows like The Big Bang Theory, which portrays its lead character living across from a beautiful woman and finding a way to be her close friend until he finally is able to date her. He highlights how these images have distorted some men’s views and caused them to expect a return on their success and good behavior. When those expectations are not met and some men feel slighted by life, they have taken it out on women through violence, rape, and murder.
Chu’s article covers a lot of related elements, but its main point is definitely strong and true. Men, whether video game players, movie watchers, or otherwise, have come to expect that success leads to whatever they want in a partner. In some cases, this presumption even exists without success as an assumed indicator of relationship likelihood. Take the incident in Santa Barbara, CA. Assuming that women owe any man anything with regards to sex, love, or otherwise is naive and chauvinistic. To act against women because you feel slighted is foolish. To enter into any space to kill woman as symbolism of your vengeance against an entire sex for made-up expectations you created is just plain horrific.
It does not matter if the guy feels led on. It does not matter if the woman one lusts after has been a friend for their entire lives. It does not matter if the guy feels that he is about to permanently end up in the “friend zone.” None of these scenarios deserve the actions that one man perpetrated in that sorority house. I refuse to give his manifesto and YouTube videos any direct attention, but I cannot help but feel disgusted by his expectations of women and his reactions to feeling rejected. Everyone has felt rejected for some reason or another. Maybe there was a job you really wanted or a promotion for which you thought you would be perfect. Maybe you have a sibling who gets more attention than you think they deserve. Maybe a teacher or professor struggles to see a point you made or the effort you put into an assignment. The answer to any of these issues is not to seek vengeance or enact some sort of violence in the name of your damaged ego.
You know what qualities most women seem to appreciate? What about communication? What about respect? What if a man who was interested in a woman just simply asked her if she was interested too? If she said no, is it not time to move on and hope for better luck with someone else?
One of the important things that Chu took time to highlight was the media’s attention on the shooter’s mental illness. While I studied psychology in college and appreciate the controllable and uncontrollable elements of mental and emotional challenges, they do not make up the entire story of a person’s actions and do not absolve a person of wrongdoing. The reality is that rape culture is still prevalent, women’s rights are still not equal in the eyes of human rights advocates, and social culture still fails to resolve perception issues with entitlements and expectations of men over women. the answer is not to keep women for flirting or dressing provocatively. It is not to teach women how to protect themselves from potential attackers or stalkers (even though those are valuable skills given the current social climate). It is for men to learn what it really means to be a man.
Being a man is about respect for oneself and those around them. It is about being advocates for equal rights and treatment for men an women. It is about respecting the choices of other and being accountable for your own. Save the princess if you choose to…just do not expect her to bow to your needs afterwards. Gratitude is nice, but returning affections is a choice that she deserves the right to make. If your princess is in another castle, then do not give up or blame the one in front of you for your situation. Learn to move on and “fight” for what you want but not expect things that are out of your control.
Chu choose the right words when he says, “He needed to grow up. We all do.” Dream about what you want but do not blame others for how it turns out. You only have yourself to hold accountable.