Giving a dress to a leather crafter results in some creative alterations. A clean, respectful design gives way to an “optional,” “historically accurate” low-cut piece, dyed red. A piece virtually exposing the areolae. After some angry comments, designers responded with lines about how “women had asked for it.” People had complained “the women were ugly.” They “weren’t feminine enough.” Apparently, showing some tit makes women both more beautiful and more feminine.

You should be ashamed, Turbine. What was in the game was more than good enough — I was overjoyed when I logged in a few weeks ago and learned the regular, store-bought dresses were so respectful. And when I first saw a screenshot of the altered design, I truly believed it was fake. You wouldn’t do that. You wouldn’t go down that road towards attracting the immature male audience, you wouldn’t start objectifying female characters. You wouldn’t encourage people to start sending /tells “r u fem irl.” But you did.

Historical accuracy is not a good point to argue in this world. Unless you’d actually like to come forward and say yes, Ispar is a direct parallel to some point in Earth’s history, “historical accuracy” should mean nothing. “Historical accuracy” only has a place in games that purport to be a recreation of history — and even then, designers are still able to make decisions like “all women at this time were wasp-waisted and had D cups.” Pick and choose what you want from our own real-world past — you have even more freedom than the Camelot designers. Pick and choose.

Pick and choose. Pointing out that this dress is optional isn’t good enough either. Who would choose to wear this? I’ll be brave and abrasive: those who choose to play characters cloyingly feminine, with extremely feminine names and clothing, are doing it for attention. They want to be the ones that are given portals to wherever they ask within minutes of the first request. They want to get everyone’s change in the mage and healers’ shops. They want to be treated differently, as if they needed special help to get by in the world. That’s what being “feminine” is in these games.

These playerbases aren’t mature enough to handle this. “Optional” “feminine” clothing only results in one thing: the sexualization of female characters. Instead of being considered regular people, they’re considered sexual beings, with women behind them — over and over again in UO, I was asked various versions of “r u fem irl.” No one has ever said that to me in AC. And I expect that to start, should I “alter” my dresses. People are not mature enough for it — it’s not “looking nice,” it’s looking like you’re on the prowl for “r u fem irl” or “here, have a free MATTY COAT/PORTAL 2 TETH/SPARE C NOTE.” When being feminine does not equal being treated differently in a negative way, then bring on the Xena armor. Until then, it’s better not to have the option.

The position of women in gaming is too precarious to risk by making their avatars sexual beings. Male characters feel uncomfortable and foreign; female characters in other games feel like prostitutes, where gifts and special treatment are showered upon them for no reason at all, along with harassment. Making characters shapeless white blocks? You know, this might be a better idea. Until female players are given some respect and equal treatment in the industry, it’s best not to make female characters significantly sexualized at all. And I’ll tell you — if Asheron’s Call was advertised with an image like that new dress, I would not have started to play.