YouTuber Liana Kerzner took NetherRealm Studios, Warner Bros. and Mortal Kombat 11 to task following their radical character design changes to many of their female characters. Kerner derided the changes calling it “benevolent sexism.”

Kerzner begins her video by defining “benevolent sexism” saying, “the type of sexism that reinforces an apparently positive sex role binary that men are strong and women are kind. It seems temporarily beneficial for women in the short term, but can become a real problem as things go on and women have higher aspirations and women step outside traditional binaries.”

She goes on to note Mortal Kombat didn’t use to have benevolent sexism as the women gave as good as they got and women stepped out of the normal gender binary saying the women rip off faces and tear off skin just as much as the male characters.

Kerzner goes on to discuss the differences between the female and male characters and notes that the male characters are showing much more skin than the females in Mortal Kombat 11.

At the 13:55 minute mark Kerzner states:

“We have four shirtless or partially shirtless male characters and maybe we count Skarlet – D’Vorah, that looks like skin – maybe we count D’Vorah but she doesn’t remotely look human. So that is the difference.

We throw in characters like Liu Kang and Johnny Cage who have always been shirtless – why haven’t they put shirts on? If the women have to put clothes on, why do the male characters not have to? ‘Oh that’s not the character!’

This is the problem. And this is where we get into the discussion of benevolent sexism. That women are kind and therefore held to more scrutiny when it comes to certain things, and men are strong, meaning men get passes in some of these things but are held to greater scrutiny in other areas, such as crime, such as violence, all that stuff.”

Kerzner goes on to explain why this matters because it affects things outside of games. She points to Democratic nominee for President Amy Klobuchar and how she is being criticized for being too tough because she’s a woman. Kerzner points out that this directly correlates with  Mortal Kombat 11 because women being more clothed means they are also seen as nicer and not as aggressive as the men who are in a number of states undress.

While Kerzner’s video was in reaction to Jade’s character announcement, she would elaborate on her thoughts following Mortal Kombat 11’s art director Steve Beran confirming the female characters were de-sexualized explaining he did it to make it more realistic.

Beran noted:

“Our design is just getting more mature and respectful. You’re not going to wear a bikini to a fight. You’re not going to be showing so much skin. I think it’s just what the game is about: You’re going in to fight for your life, and you’re not going to be wearing such scantily clad items.”

He would add, “I’m sure that will disappoint some fans. We don’t have bathing suit fighters, and I think that’s fine. If people are disappointed, I don’t regret making that change by any means.”

Kerzner would respond to his comments:

She would add:

As for Beran’s idea that women will be fully clothed when they are fighting, it’s a slap in the face to actual real women fighters.

Mortal Kombat Muy Thai Ex

Personally, as someone who has in the past participated in combat sports such as Kickboxing and MMA, men and women tend not to wear too much due to the constraints clothing put on us. But I guess a simple google search or simply asking someone was a bit too much..

What do you think of all of this double talk by NetherRealm Studios? Do you think Liana Kerzner is right and that covering up their female characters is actually sexist? Do you buy the excuse of realism that Art Director Steve Beran invokes as their reasoning behind the covering up of the female characters?

Mortal Kombat 11 makes its way to users on April 23rd, 2019. You can buy it on Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

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About The Author

Jorge Arenas
Resident Star Trek Specialist/ Writer

Jorge Arenas is a nomad in the Southwest. If Starfleet were real his career would be in a much different place. Currently, he specializes in all things Star Trek. He loves DC but has a soft spot for Deadpool. When not writing you can find him on World of Warcraft. Battle.net, ID-PassStage6#1707

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