Street Fighter V's Rainbow Mika: A Force for Women in Games?

Street Fighter V's Rainbow Mika: A Force for Women in Games?

Why Capcom's scantily-clad butt-slamming lady offers a surprisingly positive example of female representation.

Capcom's Rainbow Mika ("R. Mika") Street Fighter V reveal came as something of a surprise. The busty, rubbery female wrestler rarely has rarely appeared anywhere since her Street Fighter Alpha 3 debut.

In fact, barring some appearances in the Udon Street Fighter comic, Street Fighter V is R. Mika's only other outing of note since her first time out. Her new trailer has prompted less discussion of her origins, though, and more tongue-wagging about her looks, mostly along the lines of, "Wow, her outfit sure is something, isn't it?" Indeed, it's hard to look at R. Mika without wondering how her assets avoid spilling out of her costume. Every match she undertakes is a three-on-one.

Despite her mind-boggling proportions and physics-defying costume, I'm glad to see that R. Mika is rarin' to go for Street Fighter V. Much as I like Cammy and Chun-Li, we all just need an occasional reminder that there are other women Street Fighters out there, and some of them forego punches and kicks in favor of grappling and throws. And who needs projectiles like the Kikoken when you're capable of propelling yourself butt-first into a foe?

The manner in which women tend to be represented in games is a complicated, multi-faceted topic that's always guaranteed to bring people's opinions boiling to the surface. As a lifelong game player who happens to be of the female persuasion, these discussions (even the heated ones!) mean a lot to me. I want to see more representation for my gender in games. I also want better representation.

"'Better representation?'" you parrot. "Then how can you like R. Mika? She's total cheesecake material."

I am but one lass, and I can't speak for my gender as a whole. But I can say that I have nothing against, er, voluptuous women in games. Or even scantily-clad women. My problem has always been women characters whom I'm expected to take seriously while they slay dragons/wander the desert/travel the frozen wastes while baring their midriff through the majority of their journey.

Not all women are interested in fashion or accessorizing. But contrary to what some games want us to believe, most women above the age of three are capable of dressing themselves to suit their environment. Even a little girl who insists on wearing a princess tiara coupled with monster truck boots will put on a jacket before going outside in a snowstorm.

"So why does R. Mika get a pass?"

Because her whole schtick is silly, goofy, and way over-the-top — all stuff you'd expect from someone working in "sports entertainment." Mainstream wrestling is a profession that's full of gimmicks, weird promos, and chairs meeting heads. Even male wrestlers outfit themselves in stupid costumes and show up on television framed in pin-up moments.

In fact, believe it or not, R. Mika's representation is better than what most women wrestlers ("Divas") are subject to in the WWE. Though the entertainment empire's female roster has gradually garnered greater respect and recognition in the House of McMahon, R. Mika is still miles ahead in many ways.

Look at her Street Fighter V art, for instance. Is it gratuitous? Absolutely! But at least it shows off the fact R. Mika has meat on her bones, and when you're throwing around other people — and getting thrown around yourself — you want to have some padding. By contrast, watching a WWE Diva's exposed hip bones hit the mat makes me cringe every time.

In the same vein, the storylines featuring these women tend to involve a lot of back-stabbing, cattiness, put-downs, and other "character traits" chiseled out of the old/untrue trope about women hating each other. All that bad blood translates to a lot of shrieking, screaming, and crying in the ring.

R. Mika's having none of that. She left school determined to train and become a wrestler, and by golly, she enjoys what she does. Even the reveal trailer has a lot of laughing, smiling, and all-important butt-flinging. She has muscle, and the act of using it makes her as happy as a kitten in a yarn shop.

Admittedly, I haven't mastered R. Mika's move set, so I don't know how much I'll get to play of her in Street Fighter V. But wrestling isn't necessarily about getting involved. For most of us, it's about watching the performance on-stage.

…I'm still not sure how she avoids chronic wardrobe malfunctions, though. Starched costume? Clear tape? Crazy glue? I need to think on this.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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