A recent post on the Overwatch forums has sparked a controversy over how one of Overwatch‘s star characters, Tracer, is represented in the game. The thread started as a complain from a player who claimed that Tracer’s “Over the Shoulder” pose was too sexualized for the character and is in opposition to Tracer’s spunky personality. They claim this sexualization of Tracer reduces her depth as a strong female character to “another bland female sex symbol”.
As many of our readers know, I am very outspoken for proper representation and consideration for women in games. I completely agree that sexualization of Tracer’s character would be bad for her character and for Overwatch overall.
Here’s where I disagree with the complaint: I don’t think that it’s a sexual pose.
Let’s take a look at Tracer in her official skin in the pose:
You have to admit, your eyes are drawn straight to her butt. It’s gleaming there like a bright nectarine. I can easily see why someone would think this is sexual, because Tracer’s butt feels like the focus of the image.
But is this a sexual pose?
Tracer is looking over her shoulder, that’s not particularly sexual. She’s showing off her guns. Again, not sexual.
And her hip is cocked.
I pay great attention to body language. In fact, I just finished reading “The Definitive Book of Body Language” a few weeks ago (good read, but definitely needs to be taken with some salt).
So how can a cocked hip be interpreted? There are three uses of a hip cock that comes to mind; one is a woman using to accentuate her hips and butt while flirting, one is a silly, even spunky gesture to show playfulness, and the other is to show confidence over a victory.
Jessica Rabbit is a perfect example of a character that uses the hip cock in the first, sexualized manner.
One knee pressed in front of the other combined with the hip cock greatly accentuates her curves and butt, showing off her over-the-top hourglass figure. This is clearly a flirting, sexy pose, and would not at all be fit for Tracer.
Tracer’s “Over the Shoulder” pose, however, is not at all like Jessica Rabbit’s. Her feet are spread wide, which would flatten a butt and hips. Combined with the playful look back over her shoulder, Tracer’s pose to me says “Ha, I got you there! Bet you can’t even catch up!”. It’s playful, it’s silly, it shows her confidence.
And, yeah, it shows her butt, too.
The issue here isn’t Tracer’s pose, it’s her butt.
I have a feeling that some artists at Blizzard are aware that Tracer’s butt is… accentuated. It is very clearly designed and shaded to be a very perky, muscly and noticeable butt. Previously, Blizzard had given Blood Elves a very noticeable butt-lift when they updated their graphics.
As the fastest character in Overwatch, it would make sense that Tracer has a well defined and perky butt, that’s what comes with lots of sprinting. It’s also the main reason why people are finding her pose to be sexual.
Let’s take a look at Tracer with a little more coverage and a little less spandex wedgie.
Suddenly, her butt draws much less focus and looks much less sexualized. In fact, if this is how Tracer looked in the pose, I really doubt that anyone would have opposition to it at all.
Another great example of this is the pose in another skin:
Again, to me, this pose says spunky and confident, not sexual and flirting.
So, the real issue here is Tracer’s butt. And, from how her butt is covered or hidden in almost all of her promotional art, I think that it may be a known issue. Look at her foot placement here:
Without her foot covering up her butt in this image, it being bright, solid colored and in the middle of the photo would bring a lot of attention to it.
I wouldn’t blame the focus on Tracer’s butt in her “Over the Shoulder” pose on the pose itself, but on her butt. So, if anyone has problems with Tracer’s wedgie inducing spandex pants, maybe Blizzard can make them so they don’t ride solidly up her crack.
Personally, I’m fine with her confident pose, her sprinter’s butt and her choice of athletic clothing.
Keep on sprinting, Tracer.