Tropes vs Women Feminist Frequency
Damsel in Distress
3 Video Essays by Anita Sarkeesian
This video explores how the Damsel in Distress became one of the most widely used gendered cliché in the history of gaming and why the trope has been core to the popularization and development of the medium itself.
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 then be rescued by a male character, usually providing a core incentive or motivation for the protagonist’s quest.
This is the second in a series of three videos exploring the Damsel in Distress trope in video games. In this installment we look at “dark and edgy” side of the trope in more modern games and how the plot device is often used in conjunction with graphic depictions of violence against women.
Over the past decade we’ve seen developers try to spice up the old Damsel in Distress cliche by combining it with other tropes involving victimized women including the disposable woman, the mercy killing and the woman in the refrigerator.
This is the third installment in our three part mini-series exploring the Damsel in Distress trope in video games. In this episode we examine the rare Dude in Distress role reversal and then take a look at the use of “ironic sexism” in retro inspired indie games. We conclude with an investigation of titles that attempt to subvert or deconstruct the traditional damsel narrative.