February 12th, 2013. The day when the Pokemon fandom went crazy over a CoroCoro leak that revealed a new Eeveelution–Sylveon. At the time, only its silhouette and design were known–its typing remained shrouded in mystery and the subject of massive fan speculation. Some believed the ribbons it sported made it eligible to be a Flying-type, and some thought that despite its primarily pink coloration, it would turn out to be a Dragon-type.
After months of agonizing speculation, June 13th served to be the fateful day when the Fairy-type was revealed. Not only did this type pertain to the highly mysterious Sylveon, but the X Legendary Xerneas, as well as older Pokemon–Mawile and Gardevoir, to name a few, who gained it as a secondary type. The Fairy-type, as expected, also brought changes to the type chart: much-needed changes, may I add. The Dark and Fighting types got another weakness after over a decade of only having two, and the arguably overpowered Dragon-type was revealed to have a weakness to this new type. Gamefreak developers clearly stated the Dragon-type’s offensive prominence as partial reasoning for introducing this new type, alongside the type chart’s stationary presence for nearly a decade.
Despite these balanced changes that were brought to the metagame, as well as older Pokemon being taken into consideration for reclassification of their type, many were torn over this new addition. A plethora of individuals claimed that the type was “too feminine” and “a shameless way to attract more female gamers.” This, of course, was the subject of outcry over many internet forums, going as deep as bringing women’s rights issues in the real world to the conversation. Most regarded these comments as “crude and sexist,” especially so considering Pokemon is a game targeted at children, with no intention to spark gender-based debates.
Of course, some chose to make comments that could be taken harsher than others, taking into account how the Pokemon look rather than how they act in battle. Many were upset over the fact that the Dragon-type was essentially “dethroned,” though the Fairy-type has plenty of weaknesses of its own. As of Generation VII, the Fairy-type is weak to Poison and Steel, which each have two and three weaknesses, respectively. From a personal standpoint, I find nothing wrong with the Fairy-type in terms of its strengths and weaknesses. Giving the Dark, Dragon, and Fighting types a third weaknesses balances out the type chart in comparison to Generations II through V. In addition, its two weaknesses compensates for its super-effectiveness against the Dragon-type, considering they, too, have few weaknesses of their own.
From a personal standpoint, I find nothing wrong with the Fairy-type in terms of its strengths and weaknesses. Giving the Dark, Dragon, and Fighting types a third weaknesses balances out the type chart in comparison to Generations II through V. In addition, its two weaknesses compensates for its super-effectiveness against the Dragon-type, considering they, too, have few weaknesses of their own. Defensively, its resistance to the common Fighting and Bug types makes it a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. However, primarily physical Steel or Poison-type attacks, as well as the low speed stat that most Fairy types posess, can hinder its defense.
From an offensive standpoint, its super-effectiveness against the three types I have mentioned is a rather phenomenal trait to have, and fills in for its mediocre defense at times. Most Fairies have the capability of learning Psychic-type moves as well, which can serve as a detriment to its Poison-type weakness. The speed of these Fairy-types may make this a challenge, as well as their attack, which is the lowest on average of all Pokemon.
A bit on the overpowered side, Fairy-type Pokemon are completely immune to Dragon-type attacks, making Dragons absolutely useless against these Pokemon. I would have to say that this is slightly too advantageous of a trait for Faries to have, but there are slightly more Steel and Poison-types than Dragon-types, leveling that immunity disadvantage out. Does this mean that a Dedenne or Marill, if strong enough, can sweep Elite Four Drasna in XY with no problem? Absolutely, but may fall short against Elite Four Wikstrom if the proper moveset isn’t planned out.
Now, where do I stand on the whole “Fairies are too feminine” argument? I, of course, have rational reasoning for why I believe that is absolutely a false statement. Pokemon have had genders for six generations now in order to promote the equality of both male and female possibilities. It is absolutely unfair to prevent female Pokemon from existing, due to the realistic fact that animals can have either gender in the real world. From a political standpoint, the world is slowly becoming accustomed to the fact that women are just as equally important as men, a situation that took centuries to sort out among the cultures of our world. With this being said, Pokemon, despite being a game targeted at children, should still promote a sense of equality among both genders, which it has done phenomenally throughout its 20 year lifespan. Not to say that the Fairy-type brings out more of the equality for women, as all Fairy-type Pokemon are either genderless or have a male to female ratio. Gardevoir, for example, which is commonly credited for its “girly appearance,” has a 50/50 male-to-female gender ratio, promoting that sense of equality and proving that Fairies are not exclusive to females.
Personally, it is on the radical side to be against something as minor as a new type because of its apparent skew in design towards women. Pokemon in the past may have had more woman-like appearances, although their gender ratio is evened out in order to diminish any need for a dispute. In my point of view, having a Fairy-type is just the move that the series needed to balance out an overpowered type, and nothing more. It does not do anything to appeal more to women, nor is it altered in a manner to appear so. The design of some Pokemon varies on purpose, in order to give a sense of diversity and differentiation from type to type. One could argue for a Pokemon of any type that it looks “too feminine,” with the Fairy-type being no exception. Some can use its design features, learnable moves, or even its cry to justify their opinion, but it is just that. I believe that Fairies are being treated just as any other type would be, with no apparent increase in its appeal to women. I also don’t believe that Pokemon should be classified as being “too feminine” because of the gender ratios that have been present for the last 20 years. It is evident that no Pokemon is intended on only being interpreted as one gender, because many will spark an outcry, as they have with this new type.
In folklore, fairies are typically associated with females, which is why many were disappointed with the type when it was first revealed. Perhaps they thought that this similarity would be taken into consideration, and no “manly” Fairies would be introduced to the series. However, gender ratios speak otherwise, as they could be either male or female. Female gamers should not have to be lured into a franchise by the designs of the usable characters, and that surely isn’t the case with the inception of Fairy-types. For two decades, Pokemon of varying styles and appearances have headlined the franchise, and that is no different with the new type. There are different styles of Pokemon with variations in their lore, secondary typing, and usability in battle that are classified as Fairy, which is absolutely okay. As a matter of fact, my favorite type has to be the Fairy-type, because of how useful it can be in battle and the diversity among its available roster. Never would I cease to use a Pokemon because of a seemingly feminine appearance, nor would I openly hate on it for said reason. Pokemon handles equality exceptionally well, especially in terms of allowing women to share the spotlight alongside men. We have had female protagonists, a female professor, and a multitude of female champions. It is evident that equality is part of the plan in making each game unique, diverse, and open to everybody. Similarly, types are created and composed of creatures that are similar in gender designation by percentage, with designs allowing for free interpretation.
Never would I have thought that in the day and age of political unrest in the real world, people would be as insubordinate as to assume Pokemon is trying to appeal more towards women. A fanbase is a fanbase regardless of who makes it up, and different gaming interests serves as the reason for whether or not a person enjoys a title. Maybe some females are not fond of Pokemon’s story or repetitive grinding system, but one should not assume introducing a “feminine type” is the plan to win them back. Equality is at the forefront of my viewpoint towards society and Pokemon–something that should surely be shared among more people.
Evidently, Fairy types have their strengths and weaknesses on an offensive and defensive level, but neither is appeal towards women, nor should it be so. Consideration should be taken as to which Pokemon is best in battle, not as which appeals to a certain gender. As time progresses, people will surely become more accustomed to this type, due to its advantages on the battlefield, which are prominent. However, this dispute about females benefitting from this type must be stopped, due to its inability to reflect what the series is and always be about–bringing Pokemon and trainers of all kinds together. Let this be a lesson that we, as fans and trainers alike, do not forget.