This, is Samus. Defender of the Galaxy.
But, for those of you that don’t know, Samus is a woman. To many
who played this game in 1986, this revelation was
quite shocking. But why? French existentialist Simone Lucie Ernestine
Marie Bertrand De Beauvoir, or, simply, Simone de Beauvoir, sought to answer the
question: What does it mean to be a Woman? In her book, The Second Sex, she famously
asserted that Woman is other. Woman is not Man, and Man has historically defined what it means to
be human. As such, Woman lives with the reality of Gender oppression. Unable to easily navigate
the world free from oppression, women have to assert their freedom, and climb the social
ladder. While men simply take the elevator to the top floor. Like Sartre, de Beauvoir
believed that people are nothing but their actions— that we are defined by the choices
that we make. But in the case of woman, their identity as the Other is impressed
upon them by a male dominated world. You see, a woman’s facticity—that is the social and
biological facts of her life that she has no control over— limits her freedom. But does not mean she
isn’t free! In fact, she flees from her freedom when, for example, she thoughtlessly buys into the feminine
stereotypes dictated by a male-dominated society. This acceptance is a type of inauthenticity.
For de Beauvoir the masculine majority creates woman as Other. In other words, man defines
himself by that which is NOT feminine, or what De Beauvoir calls a dialectical
process of self construction. This isn’t always a peaceful process. Man is a
savior and the feminine is a damsel in distress. Man is a subject whereas woman
is the object of possession. If woman is seen at all, it’s usually as
purely a biological or sexual object. Simone De Beauvoir’s answer to the question:
“what is woman”, is that “no answer is adequate because a fundamental ambiguity
marks the feminine being” If our human condition is ambiguity, it means that we exist and create
our meaning through the choices we make. Therefore Simone asserts, “One is not
born, but rather becomes, a woman. To live authentically people must live their own lives and accept their radical freedom.
Or not. If Samus chooses to fight space pirates as part of her project to free the galaxy
from the intergalactic yoke of evil space pirates… Is she merely interiorizing
a patriarchal standard by replicating a masculine myth of
virility? Is she acting authentically? What about if she wears a bikini?