Hello, Jenni here!
So, I absolutely fucking LOVE pokemon. Seriously, I love the pokemon games, they’re not my favourite games, but they’re damn close.
With that out of the way, there are a few things I’ve noticed regarding the way the pokemon games express certain gender roles.
First a little background info. Gender appears in pokemon games both with humans (trainers and such) and with the creatures themselves. In this, I will focus only on the creatures, not the humans.
the creatures prior to the 2nd generation did not have known sexes, except for the nidoran(male) and nidoran(female) pokemon. Generation 2 on, gave each species of pokemon a sex ratio, the number of (biological) males to (biological) females in that species, and made some species sexless.
For the most part, the sex of a pokemon has very little actual impact, with a few exceptions. The changes between sex are purely aesthetic - male and female sprites are often slightly different (for examples see this bulbapedia article). In the case of the two sexes of nidoran (and their respective evolutions) they look different, and the male is more offense oriented, where the female is more defense oriented, but their typing, etc is all basically the same.
Latias and Latios have a similar relationship - seemingly being male and females members the same species.
Okay, so, for the most part, Pokemon handles gender expectations pretty well. The biggest difference between male and female is a few minor appearance changes in most cases - the “girls” are just as good as the “boys” at what they do. Even the nidoran issue I mentioned above is negligible - often in a species and even in humans a male will have more muscle and female may have an edge in pain tolerance (most women agree: giving birth fucking HURTS!).
The only real problems that come up are in respect to pokemon who are single-sex. There are certain species of pokemon that are only available in one biological sex, some of them - miltank for example, have an unofficial counterpart of the other sex, tauros is often considered a counterpart of miltank, for example, as one is based on real life’s bulls, and the other based on real life’s cows, and they too tend to be pretty fairly balanced in the same way as the two nidoran evolutionary lines (for more info see this ).
So, what about the pokemon with no equivalent?
This is where my problem starts. Look here for the list. Notice any thing about the all-female species vs the all-male species?
Well to start off, Six of the nine male-only species are fighting type - and look like martial artists of various sorts. The problem? it portrays martial arts as a boys club, and encourages males to be fighters - the implication is that boys should be boxers, fighters, etc. and women should not be. Even among fighting types who can be both sexes - there is a higher incidence of males of many fighting type pokemon. There are 22 pokemon with a fighting as their main(first) type. of those, 3 evolutionary lines are 50/50 male to female (Primeape’s line, Machamp’s line, and meditite’s line) the remaining 15 or so pokemon have more men than women (typically 75% male to 25% female). Maybe I’m nitpicking, but this strikes me as VERY bad message to send to people, that males should be aggressive and know how to and even enjoy fighting. (though to be fair, pokemon battles are basically cock fights… so any lesson taken from the game should come with a bit of warning)
Now, look at the pokemon who are only women.
4 of the 10 of them are depicted as carrying children - the chansey evolutionary family all have an egg pouch (eggs, of course, being unhatched young pokemon) and Kangaskhan carries a baby in her pouch in a kangaroo-like fashion. I’m not going to go too much into why this annoys me, as it’s common for a species in real life to have females care for their children when they’re young, female birds nesting eggs, female kangaroos really have pouches etc. Why this is an issue, to me, is that it is something that seems restricted to female-only species. This implies that it’s a woman’s responsibility to care for children, not a man’s, even though both in humans and in other animals, men are often responsible for children as well, and in come cases (penguins, for example) the women leave the egg/child with the father, so why are there no egg-toting male pokemon? or male pokemon with their children with them? Overall this only annoys me a little - I understand why they did this, but I would love to see more male pokemon with children show up in a later generation.
now on to my real problem with the female only pokemon… their models. 6 of the 10 female pokemon have a “dress” or “skirt” like dressing, most obvious with jynx, who also has a gold accent outlining her boobs as well, but it enforces the idea that women should dress in a specific fashion - bright colours, dresses and skirts, etc. Also, notice that the most “human” looking female pokemon - jynx - is dressed in an outfit that shows off her breasts.
Speaking of Jynx - she shows off her boobs, she has huge lips that appear to have lipstick, long hair, and if you read her pokedex entries and see how she plays the conclusion I draw is that she is essentially a seductress pokemon. Yeah, a pokemon who’s entire gimmick is that she flirts, attracts other pokemon, making them fall in love with her to confuse them, and proceeds to take advantage of them when they’re too lovesick to fight back. This is quite possibly the worst message I have ever seen in a e-rated game! they are basically encouraging people to pretend to be in love, so they can take advantage of someone - in pokemon, this means attacking them usually, or capturing them, but it’s just as easy to apply this to doing this for other rewards more useful in real life - like money, sex, gifts, a free place to live. Having this pokemon be female only, however, adds an even worse addition to this - it sends the message that women specifically, should use their sexuality to manipulate men, and that men will not be able to resist, if the woman just uses her seductive powers. This simultaneously enforces victim, blaming because it makes “I couldn’t help myself” type excuses seem more legitimate to people AND it tells women that it’s okay to manipulate and control men with a false romance.
Okay …. so maybe I’m nitpicking… I still love the pokemon games, and overall the way gender and sex are handled I am very happy with, but it could do with some improvements, and that is what this is about. I want to encourage the pokemon games to improve, because I love them, and I want them to be the best they can be.
Is there anything about the pokemon gender/sex system that bothers you? message me, comment. or repost with your own take to let me know! :)
For more pokemon info, or to catch my mistakes (there must be some in here) check out my source for most of my pokemon info, Bulbapedia!
Bye for now, whoever happens to read this!