In nearly every Final Fantasy, the white male is a female. Starting with Rosa, white mages were seen as delicate, wispy and, yes, feminine. Aside from Princess Serah in Final Fantasy I, Rosa remains Final Fantasy’s ultimate damsel in distress. The tradition continued with Lenna, Aerith, and Garnet in Final Fantasy V, VII, and IX. Some white mages were rough around the edges, like Aerith, Others, like Relm and Eiko, were downright rude. But generally speaking, women were always thought of as white mages.
Why is this? It’s probably because women generally have higher magical stats than men. That’s curious. Does this mean that males and females evolve differently? Do males evolve with the strength that makes them warriors, and females with magical abilities? Or is this just a concession to an eternal truth that men are smarter than women. Maria’s hunches in Final Fantasy II attest to this.
Speaking of Maria, I bet many of us made women the traditional white mage, even when they had no defined job role. I mean Maria, Lenna, Terra, Celes, Rinoa, Quistis, Selphie, Penelo, etc. We gave them Cure, Esuna, and other healing properties. I don’t know why some of us do this. Maybe we just think of women as natural caretakers. Maybe we tend to think of Final Fantasy women as our mothers. But somehow, we perceive the universal Form of the white mage as feminine. Even though it’s not true.
The first white mage was a dude.
White Mage. Delicate as an orchid, fair as a cherry blossom. The personification of feminine grace. And a dude.
Tall as a willow. Slender as a reed. A dude.
Radiant in mage vestments.
Sun dips low in a rosy sky. Circadas buzz. White mage is a dude.
All of Final Fantasy’s original Warriors of Light had the same face and build. Supposedly, they were androgynous enough to be either male or female. The Final Fantasy Wikia points out:
Unlike the other five jobs, which are all largely meant to be male, the gender of the White Mage class is never specified. Fans have typically asserted over the years that the character depicted is female, though the sprites, particularly in earlier versions, are androgynous, leaving the decision ultimately up to the player. This concern was finally addressed in the PSP port, where the promoted White Wizard is significantly “feminine” in comparison to the other sprites.
But when the White Mage upgrades to the White Wizard, it becomes much more clear. The jagged square jaw and shoulders are a dead giveaway. In fact, he’s buff. This is no lady. White Mage is a dude.
This tradition would continue with Minwu and the children of Final Fantasy III. Final Fantasy IV discontinued the male white mages, as they made people feel uncomfortable.