By now, we’ve probably all seen the character models that Blizzard, at long last, released this month showcasing the female worgen. They’re still lacking hairstyles, but regardless those models, I must say, look quite sharp.
So, why did it take so long for Blizzard to release any information on what the female model looks like? Well, certainly part of that has to do with building up anticipation for Cataclysm, but I suspect part of it also has to deal with the fact that they’re dealing with a subject that has been largely ignored in popular culture.
Werewolves have been terrorizing people in folklore with their super-human size and strength, not to mention fangs and claws, for hundreds of years. The phenomenon of their transformation from man to wolf still remains pervasive in pop culture today — but that’s just the issue at hand. The transformation usually is from man to wolf, yet rarely woman to wolf.
Let’s poke at some of these pop culture references, take a look at a thesis for the reasoning of why this is and talk a bit more about Blizzard’s role behind the cut.
Think about it — of all the werewolf references you can think of, how many are female? On screen, there’s Teen Wolf, Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter series, an American Werewolf in London, the Underworld series, the Twilight phenomenon (at least in the movies released so far). All male.
We’ve seen a scant few visualizations of female werewolves. There was Serafine in An American Werewolf in Paris, and Veruca in Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. And honestly, that’s all I can think of. I’m sure I may be missing one or two, but the point still stands: werewolves usually are portrayed as male.
In fact, in my research for this story (to make sure I wasn’t just failing to remember my pop culture references accurately) I ran across an interesting thesis paper titled “Hairy Thuggish Women” submitted by an Elizabeth Clark at Georgetown University in 2008 that also points to this idea. The entire paper is a very interesting read, but for the sake of brevity I’ll simply highlight her opening paragraph:
“The female werewolf embodies a kind of gendered border crossing: a female body expressing characteristics labeled both masculine and male by the dominant culture (power, strength, rage, aggression, violence, and body hair). In this project, I explore how recent film and television narratives of female werewolves deal with gendered fears and expectations of female power and the female body, as well as how the visuality of these texts upholds and/or challenges cultural norms of sex and gender.”
If the topic interests you, check out the full 253-page thesis. The paper reinforces my point, and also takes a glimpse into the what may be the reasoning behind it.
Although the instances of female werewolves seem to be on the rise (the third Twilight movie is on its way, and guess who’s in it), they still lack the history in pop culture that male werewolves already hold.
Blizzard, in its own way, is helping to debut the female werewolf character to millions of subscribers in a major way. No wonder the character model is still marked as a “work in progress” — Blizzard has a much smaller inspiration pool from which to draw than it did for the male version.
I’m just glad the latest released images of the female worgen show some teeth and claws. They seem to be a step up from the earlier ultra-girly female worgen Halloween masks that first tipped us off about the race becoming playable in Cataclysm. The worgen should still be a feared character to a certain extent – after all, whether male or female, they could still rip your throat out.