I believe that the batman comparison was not fair, because the characters were already that way
Catwoman is supposed to be sexy due to her cat-like style
Harley is almost as mad the joker, her dresses will most likely reflect that
And Ivy uses her beauty to attract new victims, like a man-eater plant
Of course, the manifestations might change, some are over the top while some are not, why he do not used talia al ghul? she was properly dressed
As for the rest, well, its only the reflection of how the geek culture developed, fortunately that is changing lately
There's nothing instrinsic about cats that mean that someone with a special affinity to felines is going to be any more provocative than anyone else - female cats don't have
prominent mammaries to show off, and averaged over a year are probably less inclined towards promiscuity than a human woman. And if there was such an intrinsic connection, why isn't there a Catman*? There are certainly female versions of all the well-known male
superheroes (Batgirl, Supergirl...)
And where's the male equivalent of Poison Ivy? Such a character would probably be more of a Barney Stinson than a Stripperella, but while the tactics may change, it's not hard to imagine a predator that employs seduction techniques to catch women**. In fact, it's kinda surprising you don't
see more of them, since I'd imagine many nerds would enjoy seeing a villain that's basically an exaggerated alpha male getting beaten up by the hero.
Harley... without knowing more than what you've said and looking at appearances... I might give a pass to. Why? Because one thing that is often missed in these discussions is that women do
have a tendency to show more skin and otherwise dress more 'provocatively' than men. A common mistake in discussions relating gender is getting the idea that men and women are equal (good) confused with the idea that men and women should be identical (clearly false). Different things attract men and women in looking for a partner, and men generally don't dress sexily while women do because, deep down, men know that dressing sexy isn't actually likely to help much in catching a woman***, while it's patently obvious that a woman dressing sexy can get more attention from men as a result****.
I've railed against sexualised outfits in the past, and then been surprised when female players I knew expressed preferences for exactly those outfits. In some cases, because they would be perfectly happy to wear those outfits themselves in public (how many guys would be willing to wear male equivalents to some of the scanty convention attire you see?), in others, it can be part of the fantasy to dress their character more sexily than they would dare in real life (except possibly in private with their SO). Bottom line is that women are
that much more likely to dress in a scanty and/or provocative fashion than men are, and reflecting reality isn't sexism. (One might think that this reality is itself a symptom of a bigger problem, and that may be true, but that's not a crusade that's going to be won by attacking the gaming industry.)
Personally, my attitude is that as long as there are never circumstances where a female player character lacks a reasonable sensible options and the female NPCs aren't too
ridiculous, it's not a problem*****.
There are also times, of course, where it's not just the outfits that are a problem, as this
article shows. Even though I can't imagine many women being attracted to that article's suggestion for how the male could be made as hyper-sexualised as the female.
*Puss in Boots doesn't count.
**Dracula and vampires based on him might
***Unless they have one of those
physiques, but even then, only in situations where it's socially acceptable to go shirtless anyway (and in those cases, you'll often have plenty of women wearing bikinis). Wearing clothing designed to show off abs and a sixpack generally doesn't work as desired.
****Whether it's the right
sort of attention is another question.
*****Guild Wars did fall down on this in some cases, especially early Nightfall... but on the other hand, male Paragons. *shudder*
Edited by draxynnic, 09 December 2011 - 09:37 AM.